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Hoof Café

2010 Dining Guide: Nosh from Nearby

Cowbell is a favourite for locally sourced, sustainable fare (photo by Derek Shapton)

It’s no surprise that some of Toronto’s top-rated restaurants are devotees of the local food movement: sourcing from nearby artisan farms and producers ensures freshness, which in turn guarantees flavour. Any discussion of “slow food” in this city begins with chef Jamie Kennedy, whose Gilead Café & Bistro serves modern Canadian fare that lets his farm-fresh ingredients shine. Tastefully simple, too, are the artisan meats butchered in-house and served at such restaurants as Cowbell and the Black Hoof—the latter’s charcuterie is legendary, as are the bone marrow–filled beignets at its sister space, Hoof Café. Slightly less meat-
centric is chef Teo Paul’s contemporary country cooking at Union—though you’d be remiss not to order the elk sliders.

Of course, using homegrown ingredients doesn’t mean a chef has to forsake global influences. Local Kitchen and Wine Bar preaches respect for one’s ingredients through exceedingly fresh Italian small plates, while amongst chef Victor Barry’s contemporary offerings at Splendido are a handful of traditional pastas plated with family-farmed accompaniments. High-end, internationally inspired cuisine made with Toronto flair can also be found at long-standing favourites like elegant George and Globe Bistro.

Top Sipping Spots

Toronto’s hottest season is in full swing; after so much sightseeing, you’re no doubt in need of refreshment. Pull up a patio chair or stop by a swanky lounge for a sophisticated cocktail, local microbrew and a tempting taste of city life. Click the images below to discover our favourite patios, drinks and more. By Marisa Baratta

Hot Dining: Meaty Midday

Hoof Café (photo by Paul Kittmer)

Torontonians have been in the throws of a serious sausage-and-salami swoon ever since meat master Grant van Gameren set down his Black Hoof late in 2008. The eatery’s nose-to-tail charcuterie is so sought-after that van Gameren and business partner Jen Agg have opened a second site to handle the carnivorous overflow. Brighter than its predecessor, with modern country–style decor, a polished wood bar and tin ceiling, Hoof Café offers bar snacks and artisan cocktails while you wait for an evening table at its sister space across the street. Better yet, make the café a destination for weekend grazing—its charcuterie-centric brunch spread is the talk of the town, with offerings like cherry jam- and bone marrow-stuffed beignets ($6), pigtails with grits ($13) and foie gras-topped French toast ($23).