Up an unsuspecting staircase on Wyndham Street you’ll find The Black Hoof, a Spanish tapas eatery run by restauranteurs Will Thorpe and Logan Coath. The pair started the venture after hanging up their aprons at Waiheke Island’s equally brilliant Casita Miro.
Upon entry into the long and rustic-style dining room, your attention is drawn immediately to the large legs of meat hanging over the bar. As well as being a treat for the eyes and probably saving some space in the kitchen, the meat feature also happens to be the namesake of the restaurant - referring to the hooves of black Iberian pigs. It would be rude not to try something that a restaurant showcases so proudly, so charcuteria was our first choice - well, first after two incredibly flavoursome bite-sized starters (grilled aubergine, goat cheese and artichoke, plus fish with chilli and aioli) and the complementary bread with Romesco sauce, that is.
The four-pronged selection of cured meats come by the 40g serving, and ring up at $16 for two kinds of Ibérico to the upper echelon of $36 for hand carved Jamón Ibérico de Bellota. We settled on the middle tier of $18 for the 18-month-old Jamón Serrano.
And that was the moment when life came full circle.
From the first smoky slither, an uncontrollable smile made its way from ear to ear, and never fully relaxed until paying the bill. Blissed out on meat serum, we decided the Serrano couldn’t be finished without seeing what it tasted like alongside some dairy.
An eclectic range of Spanish cheeses make up the list, all of which this diner had never experienced or heard of before. With no descriptions on paper, aside from the animal type and origin, the staff were happy to point out the attributes of each. We decided on the Valdeón - a firm cow and goat milk cheese from the northwest of Spain. All cheeses are accompanied by a triangle of quince, crackers and an intriguing round flaky olive oil torta. The sweetness of the torta was completely unexpected and worked wonders with the Valdeón and our remaining Serrano. A mission to find the perfect ratio of torta, cheese and meat soon commenced, before a final showdown over one last pinhead-sized piece of Valdeón.
It's one extremely well thought-out menu. The rest of the menu is broken up into the smaller introductory sections (bites and snacks), and larger sharing plates (vegetables, fish and seafood, meat and rice); you won’t be spoilt for choice. Those that are spoiled for choice can always run with the ‘Tapas Tour’ that offers seven options for $55 a head.
As one final hurrah, we decided on the goat’s cheese croquets. Initially thinking that another serving of cheese may induce diary overload, we were pleasantly surprised that the croquets were largely sweet, thanks to the addition of honey and almonds. They served as the perfect dessert and an ideal way to finish a great meal.
10/10 would return.