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Restaurants

Hoof Raw Bar

Posted by Ryan Spencer / Listed on May 9, 2012 / review policy

Hoof Raw BarHoof Raw Bar has opened next door to the Black Hoof on Dundas West. In a move sure to please those less infatuated with meat than the original restaurant's typical clientele, you won't find any turf at this seafood-only establishment. Owner Jen Agg has borrowed from many cultures' culinary use of sea creatures in putting together a menu that's as exciting for fish lovers as what meat-eaters are treated to at the original Hoof. From sashimi to gravlax, the menu is anything but predictable or boring. Needless to say, there were no bones to pick during my visit — not even in the fish.

Slate walls, sea foam-coloured chairs and white-washed brick walls evoke an elegant Martha's Vineyard style for the new restaurant. The layout, similar to the first Hoof, places the chefs centre stage with ample counter seating that wraps around the prep stations. There are several tables in back for those looking for a more quiet evening.

Hoof Raw BarFor opening night, the service was already impeccable, and our server deftly answered our many excited questions throughout the evening. Ditto for the speed at which our dishes came — there were no moments of impatience, but we also didn't feel rushed.

Despite the Hoof's excellent cocktail list, white wine reigned supreme at our dinner table. Greek wine has come into vogue lately and the Assyritko ($12) may not have the easy 'drinkability' that many favour, but nevertheless featured quite a versatile profile that paired nicely with our meal. We started off with a loaf of the milk bread, a staple from Japan that's slightly sweet, beyond soft, and just fantastic.

Hoof Bar RawNot all will agree, but I'd already characterize the cured fish board ($22) as the signature dish at Hoof Raw Bar. With four types of fish and a scallop cured in various ways, it was by far the evening's knock-out with its trend-setting play on charcuterie. The chorizo-cured scallop has the familiar flavour of cured meat, and yet takes on completely new character when when applied to the raw bivalve. On the other end of the board, the olive-brined Branzino was delicate, with just a hint of brine to cut the buttery flesh.

A sizeable portion of the sea bream sashimi ($16) is accompanied by cucumber noodles, soy butter and nasturtium leaves. The taste of this dish is only matched by its beauty. Notes of acidity, sweetness, saltiness and even savoury elements come together harmoniously in this expertly executed dish that any Itamae would be proud to serve.

Hoof Raw BarChawanmushi ($11) is a Japanese loose egg custard that's steamed in a ramekin and topped with salmon roe, salted crispy kale and button mushrooms. More for the adventurous eater, the custard serves as a base to showcase the depth of flavour in the roe and complexity of the many textures at work.

Hoof Raw BarA pequin sauce, shiitake mushrooms, and sweated scallions are lightly tossed with charred baby octopus ($15). The scallions and shiitakes ground the dish in classic pan-Asian flavours, yet the inclusion of the pequin and charred octopus lend a Provencal flare that's as welcome as it's unexpected. Imaginative and original, this is simply a must-order dish.

You can't help but have high expectations for Hoof Raw Bar with the reputation garnered by Black Hoof. The creativity and execution of our meal here was downright exceptional. No doubt, the line-ups will soon follow, so go now before "it's the one that got away."

Hoof Raw BarPhotos by Peter Henderson

Discussion

18 Comments

Bruce Mandrake / May 9, 2012 at 03:30 pm
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Where's the hoppy beer?
Shamus / May 9, 2012 at 04:58 pm
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Patrons will be surprised to find vodka on the menu. Eating our words Ms. Agg?
Monica / May 9, 2012 at 07:39 pm
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Important question: do they take reservations? (It looks amazing!)
Derek replying to a comment from Monica / May 10, 2012 at 12:00 am
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Alas, no reservations.
earth / May 10, 2012 at 03:00 am
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who said anything about eating out every night?
Bloory / May 10, 2012 at 08:53 am
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For I second i read pequin as penguin. Phew
TheMadDiner / May 10, 2012 at 11:02 am
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I am SO OVER these no reservations policies. How hard is it to take a damn reservation?!?!? If the patron is late, then give away the table. Leave 30% of your tables open for walk ins. What is the effing issue here. I do not understand. More and more I'm choosing not to go to places where they don't take reservations and I think a lot of other Torontoians are too. I have better things to do with my time, than wait 1 to 2 hours for a meal. It's ridiculous and it needs to stop.
danielle replying to a comment from Bloory / May 10, 2012 at 11:24 am
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Me too!
elle / May 10, 2012 at 05:50 pm
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Hopefully your right TheMadDiner, less wait times for the patient people!
john / May 10, 2012 at 06:52 pm
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yeah totally agree with the no-reservation thing... i don't mind waiting once in a while but every time is annoying.. moreover it also means i never can take my aging parents to these kinds of places because even though they would love the food, im not going to make them stand in line for an hour to try it or take them to some bar while we wait where they'd feel out of place.
Derek / May 11, 2012 at 12:43 am
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Waiting at the Black Hoof isn't like waiting at other restaurants, thanks to Cocktail Bar. Try an oak-aged Martinez and enjoy the ride.

http://www.blogto.com/bars/cocktail-bar-toronto
TraderZed replying to a comment from TheMadDiner / May 11, 2012 at 09:30 am
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I prefer no reservation policies. It basically means that I can eat there any night I want, I just have to wait for it. I'd much rather know that I'll be able to get a table, then think "Ah crap, I forgot to make reservations, guess I'll have to go next week."
Brit / May 14, 2012 at 10:34 am
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What are the hours?
Kelly / May 31, 2012 at 01:41 am
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I'm fresh from eating (and drinking) here and can say that I enjoyed it. My only complaint is that you're going to burn through a lot of money if you come with a big appetite like me. The lineup wasn't an issue because we came early but I wouldn't bet on that Thurs-Sat, though.
Kelly / September 18, 2012 at 03:39 pm
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Worth the wait, and like Derek said, Cocktail bar makes it all a little less painful. My full review here: http://thingsthatareawesome.com/2012/08/16/spotlight-on-raw-bar-the-black-hoofs-fishy-sister/
Adam / October 19, 2012 at 11:50 am
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This place was absolutely fantastic. The ceviche was incredible as was the ocean trout carpaccio,. The raw scallops were a bit flavourless, but overall everything was incredible.
travelling to pattaya / April 29, 2013 at 03:28 pm
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Everyone loves it when folks get together and share thoughts.

Great blog, continue the good work!
Jennie / October 31, 2013 at 06:06 pm
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Generally I ddo not learn article onn blogs, but I would
like to say that this write-up very pressured me too take a look aat and ddo it!
Your writing styoe has been surprised me. Thanks, very nice article.

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