325 Roncesvalles Avenue
In her opinion:
I had always wanted to go to the Hoof Cafe for brunch and had even made plans to celebrate a birthday there but unfortunately, they closed before I had that privilege. So when I discovered on Twitter that Chef Geoff Hopgood was having a Hoof Cafesque brunch at his dinner only restaurant, Hopgood's Foodliner, on Sunday August 12, 2012 (one day only)...I was all over it.
We drove to Toronto hoping that we wouldn't get stuck in traffic because brunch started at 11:00 am and they were not taking reservations. We somehow managed to get into Roncesvalles Village, Toronto in about 50 minutes and were lined up with about 20 people in front of us. We got in and were seated at a premium table for four in the front section of the restaurant. The attentive servers brought water, filled our glasses and left a carafe on the table. They also took our drink orders right away. I decided on "the bellini" to help celebrate this much anticipated brunch. It was described on the menu as Pares Balta Cava and Ontario White Peach Puree. It was very good. Not super sweet as is expected with most peach drinks.
We decided that a Hopgood brunch wouldn't be complete without the famous "Bone Marrow Doughnuts". These little gems were filled with a fruit jam and coated in cinnamon sugar.
Okay, all the hype wasn't for nothing! These little pieces of heaven were absolutely delicious. I have never had anything like them before in my life. I would call them my food "crack"!
For my main, I choose "Corned Beef Hash" This Southern favourite is one of those decadent breakfast/brunch staples that I don't order too often. However, because of the nature of this brunch, I decided to pick this.
This was a totally guilt free version of the classic. It consisted of roasted potatoes and corned beef with two firm poached eggs with micro greens on top. The sauces consisted of a "mustard mayonnaise" and "spicy sauce". They added an incredible amount of flavour to the dish. It was brunch perfection.
Overall, this was an excellent brunch. While some found service too brisk, we found our service kind of slow...but the bottom line was that it was worth the wait. So glad Chef Hopgood decided to put this brunch together and for the record...you still have it Chef. Hope you do it again very soon.
In his opinion:
To say I was a little looking forward to this brunch would be an understatement. I actually was looking forward to it a lot as I drove down to High Park, hoping that the crowds were not too crazy and I could actually get a table in decent time. The brunch promised to be "Hoofish Cafe" in its nature and that was all I needed to hear.
It worked out that approximately 30 minutes before opening there were only around 20 people lined up, just enough for us to get a nice table in the front part of the restaurant. Behind us were another 30 or so people, as we walked in.
The restaurant is very nicely done, minimal decor but with a mix of casual and sophisticated all while maintaining an inviting look. There is a large bar to the left as you walk in, perfect for evening drinks and additional seating in the back to accommodate the large crowds that this place attracts.
Staff was very courteous and well informed and helped contribute to the experience, something that is not standard these days as it seems. They took our drink orders and gave us some time to go over the menu. The regular menu was written on a blackboard beside our table and was also very inviting.
The adventure starts there, I browsed their brunch menu and simply wanted to try everything on it but I knew very well that the belly or wallet would not accommodate that. Instead we opted to start with the "Bone Marrow Doughnuts" and I'm so glad we did. The doughnut balls are served in packs of 6 and they were extremely good. For those that are cringing right now at the thought of bone marrow in a doughnut, I assure you that these were some of the best doughnuts I have ever tried, and even though the flavour is surely there, the marrow does not overpower the doughnuts at all. I could have those doughnuts any day of the week.
Up next was the "piece de resistance", a dish that I was so looking forward to having, that every minute that went by made me more anxious, and hungry of course. I chose the "Foie Gras and Crepes" and I wasn't disappointed with the choice. The perfectly seared generous piece of foie gras sat on on a delicious crepes with maple syrup, apricots and toasted hazelnuts. The hazelnuts were a perfect texture clash to the softness of the crepe and the tender foie. I was savouring every morcel of this dish and wished it didn't have to come to an end.
This restaurant lived up to its expectations, but more importantly the legendary brunch was extremely good. I also got a chance to meet a fellow foodie and blogger Yvonne T @th3hungrycat that was also there enjoying this "special day" brunch.
The Good:Great tasting food in a great environment makes this place a crowd favourite.
The Bad: Our food took quite a bit to arrive but servers kept us informed and this was a huge morning for the restaurant, so some slack must be given.
The Verdict: The Hoof Cafe legendary brunch lives on...in the incarnation of Chef Hopgood's Foodliner. The demand speaks for itself and the food and service matched and surpassed the expectations.
I give it 3 1/2 Olives out of 5 as a rating