Last night I finally got the chance to go to the Black Hoof, and, as a bonus, my friend was paying!
We arrived at 8 o' clock on a friday night so, understandably the small room was packed with hipster types looking for god in cured morsels of meat. I was looking forward to a salty epiphany or two myself. We were immediately greeted by a gracious hostess who informed us that there would be about a 45 minute wait for our table of two. Black Hoof does not take reservations, however the hostess gave us the option of waiting at the bar (tight squeeze) or she could take our cell # and call us when our table was available. We chose option two and merrily set out on foot to find a warm place and pint.
About 2 pints and 1 hour later, we had not received our call. Somewhat perturbed, we decided to go back and investigate. It turns out that our gracious hostess had kinda forgotten about us. Quote "Oh you know what I never got your number", to which my friend replied "Actually you did". Anyhow, she promised us the very next table and ushered us over to the unoccupied end of the small bar.
This would prove to be the only little blip in an otherwise very enjoyable experience. I realize this would annoy some people greatly and perhaps sour there entire experience, but we were in a mellow mood and nothing was going to defeat me in my quest to find charcuterial nirvana.
The friendly bartender offered us a glass of wine or a cocktail. We chose a beer. There was a good selection of local microbrews and imports, and the winelist, while not a multipage affair, was intelligently crafted, with many choices by the glass, and many bottles under $50 dollars.
After a couple of sips of beer we were led to a cosy table for two near the back of the narrow room. The decor is dark with grey walls, low lighting, bare aluminum ceiling, chalkboard menus, and plain wooden tables. The overall atmosphere is simple, modern, comfortable and the room buzzes with energy.
I study the chalkboard menu while my friend rants about the economy. You know how sometimes its difficult to choose because you want to try everything? Well at Black Hoof I didn't have that problem. Maybe its because my friend was paying, and we ended up eating our way through half the menu anyway.
We started off with bread by Thuet ($2 s/$4 l), olives in their oil, and a large charcuterie platter. The platter was a triumph of artisanal achievement, a salty fatty hallelujah. We were instructed to eat our way from left right, from the mildest flavours to the strongest. Some highlights included: an orangey foie gras mousse, duck rillette with tarragon, horse bresola, saussicon sec (my friends fav, he wanted to buy a piece to bring home, We learned that it was from a producer in Quebec), and whipped pork fat. We spent over an hour savouring this platter. This is what I was here for. My friend was having our attentive server suprise him with her choice of beer, and the second time he requested this, she brought us a bottle to share on the house, claiming that we were victims for her experiment. It was a heavily smoked german ale and it turned out to be a perfect pairing for the charcuterie. We were delighted.
Next we ordered the Cabbage and Bone Marrow soup, the Jamon Iberico, de Bellota (oh yes!), and a bottle of Cava. Things were looking up. The soup was a rich puree of cabbage with a flavourful meaty base. It was served scalding, and paired with a roasted marrow bone with a small dish of fleur de sel and a few thin slices of toasted baguette. Then came the Jamon Iberico de Bellota, which I love saying by the way. I was sceptical ordering a $30 plate of shaved ham, but it was worth it. For those of you new to this substance there is a great posting about in the chowhound archives. Suffice to say it is equivalent to truffles, or parmigiano reggiano, or a first pressing of Burgundy. We slowly savoured each translucent sheet alone or with a corner of plain bread. We had to pause half way through to avoid palpatations. A sip of cheerful Cava between each slice cleansed our palates. We were in a very happy place.
Next up came pickled octopus with chorizo, and tongue on brioche. The two dishes were delivered together and were a startling contrast to each other. The octopus, served cold, was bright and zingy; an almost mouth puckering flavour, accented by the salty chorizo. The tongue on brioche was warm, sweet, fork tender and incredibly rich, the conservative drizzle of cream sauce was unnecessary(but good).
By this time about 2 and a half hours had passed and we were getting pretty full. But I wasn't quite done. I had to have some cheese. We ordered the small cheese plate (cheeses were supplied by the Cheese Boutique). It was three beautiful cheeses each with their own condiment. It was probably a mistake to order it though because we could not finish it. I ended up wrapping up a little tinfoil swan (my own handiwork) filled with cheese, and the remnants of the octopus and tongue.
It was an epic meal and relatively affordable as epic meals go. The final bill came in at just under $200. It was an experience that I won't soon forget. I owe my friend one. Any suggestions where we should go next?
And, oh yeah, does any body have brunch recipe that includes octopus, tongue, chorizo, a soft ripe cheese, an aged sharp cheese and a blue cheese?