This week for Cheap Eats, I ventured into the storm to find a Spanish oasis in The Black Hoof
Roasted cauliflower ($9)
Goat cheese croquettas ($11)
While the name The Black Hoof may conjure images of an English pub with dark wood, Yorkshire puds and bar maids, the name actually refers to the hoof of the prized black Iberian pigs, of which several of their legs can be found hanging above The Black Hoof’s bar.
Once a dark night club, the owners of The Black Hoof (who hail from Casita Miro on Waiheke Island) have stripped the place back and polished off the black paint to create a warm and inviting space to enjoy a few bebidas and tapas with friends.
The Black Hoof’s dining room is bright and airy, sitting at the top of a flight of stairs on Auckland’s Wyndham Street. The room almost glowed on the cold and rainy night Alexia, Lynn and I visited, with the walls boasting exposed, terrocotta-coloured brick and the dining furniture reclaimed in one form or another.
True to its namesake, the menu here features a number of charcuterie options including hand-carved Serrano ($12) and Iberico Jamon (we ordered the former as the later is too pricey to feature in a Cheap Eats budget) and a number of Spanish cheeses.
For those after more substantial offerings, the menu has a variety of familiar (think patatas bravas and gazpacho) and less familiar Spanish offerings, including raw line caught fish with green olives and lemon, or beef cheek with carrot puree, salsa verde and pickled mushrooms. We liked the sounds of the vegetable dishes and ordered the roasted cauliflower ($9) and braised beetroot ($9) as well as the goat cheese croquettas ($11) and pork chicharrones ($16) to remind us this was a Spanish place.
I was particularly fond of the cauliflower, an imaginative concoction of scorched cauliflower and kale dressed with sweet and juicy sherried raisins, pine nuts and topped with plump and salty whole anchovies and a squeeze of lemon; the whole thing was both a flavour and textural delight.
The goat cheese croquettas with honey and marcona almonds came as three golden medallions with a crispy crumbed outer and a warm, velvety filling of goat’s cheese; the honey added an extra soothing dimension of flavour whilst the almonds provided a nice contrast in texture. The braised beetroot was a spin on your classic combination of beetroot with nuts and cheese; the candied walnuts were dark and treacly in colour with a moreish crunch whilst the medjool dates added a soft, caramel richness.The valdeon turned out to be a rather potent blue cheese that thankfully didn’t feature too heavily, providing a heady aroma to the finish of the dish.
The hand-carved Serrano Jamon came simply served as is in slivers of various shapes and sizes; it had a beautiful flavour to it but was chewier than expected. The least successful of the dishes was the chicharrones, better known to us as fried pork belly seasoned with fennel seeds and a sprinkle of lemon juice and parsley. The skin was lovely and crunchy but Alexia and I found the meat itself to be a bit on the dry side; it certainly benefited from the lemon both to moisten things up and to cut the richness of the pork belly.
Although drinks do not feature in a Cheap Eats budget, I must note that both the non-alcoholic red sangria and the sangria blanco were excellent; my red sangria was a combination of red fruit juices topped with soda and spiked with whole cinnamon and star anise whilst Alexia’s sangria blanco was a fragrant combination of sauvignon blanc, gin and kiwifruit liquor.
The Black Hoof is a welcome addition to Auckland’s sparse Spanish food scene; they have a great philosophy on using both Spanish and local produce, and I’ll be returning to try the squid ink rice with crispy calamari and saffron aioli and the lamb shoulder with labneh, cumin spiced almonds and chickpeas.
Phone: 09 366-1271
Hours: Tuesday – Thursday 11am – 10pm; Friday 11am – 11pm; Saturday 3pm – 11pm
Prices: Bread $8; Charcuteria $9-$29; Queso $13; Para picar $4.50-$11; Verduras $9; Pescado $12-$16; Carne $16-$26; Arroz $26; Dulce $6-12; Non-alcoholic drinks $4-$10; Craft beer $8-$17.50; Cider $10-$30; Wine by the glass $8-$23
Credit Cards: Yes
Suitable for Vegetarians: Yes
Bathrooms: Good (small doorway access)
Wheelchair Accessible: No