In 2008, Toronto was clutched by a recession and diners were craving a good hole in the wall. Dundas West was a restaurant-less purgatory between Queen and College, and eating tongue or sweetbreads was semi-scandalous. The Hoof changed all that (except for the recession part). Dining there now, there’s still an illicit thrill in ordering the horse tartare. And you still get meat sided by meat, as in the perfectly cooked lamb saddle with a heavily salted merguez-style sausage, but nowadays it’s the lighter dishes that are most impressive: a dainty bowl of chilled scallops with pickled fennel that’s topped with dill and a mild scallop mousse; or al dente asparagus dotted with gently smoked queso and lemony sumac. The herbaceous Tea and Sympathy cocktail, made with earl grey–infused gin and cream sherry, almost rivals their famous $16 manhattan.