Update: no longer open.
The main draw of Hoof + Fin for us is it's near-to-us Queen Village location, not the fact that we're huge meat (hoof) or fish (fin) eaters. But we frequently pass the Argentinian inspired eatery that opened this past February in the space previously occupied by Gayle, and I scope Hoof + Fin's menu every time I stand outside of neighboring South Street Philly Bagels waiting for our dozen bagels to go. So...we decided to go in Hoof + Fin one evening.
Hoof + Fin is a tight, tiny and dark rowhouse cave. The table candle had to be held to the menu and our food to get a good gander, as the Edison-style light bulbs just don't kick out enough light. Volume levels are not dim, though. Dinner can be a shouting match on a packed evening. When the weather's nice, perhaps you'll be fortunate to snag a seat in their outdoor patio.
Argentinian food, a cuisine that's heavily influenced by Europe, is heavy on the beef, but there are still a few main dishes on the menu that a vegetarian can order, like a pasta, risotto, and even a tofu dish.A complimentary mason jar of long, thin, crispy cracker sticks accompanied by a roasted red pepper aioli starts the table off. The aioli was a bit tart for maybe most people, though I love vinegar, so found the aioli addictive.
A large freshly fried and crispy corn and cheese empanada was like a sweet creamed corn hand pie, worth every bite. The accompanying salad of mixed greens and micro-thinly sliced radishes, sweet peppers, red onion, and carrots was dressed perfectly in a well balanced vinaigrette.I had to see what Hood + Fin would do with tofu, so ordered the grilled tofu entree. A large, thick slab of firm tofu either briefly seared was the centerpiece of the plate. The lemon and soy sauce covering the tofu was pleasant and familiar, as were the grilled squash, onions and peppers. All things that I have prepared at home and love, but done well and elegantly at Hoof + Fin.
My one quibble is that I would love to have had the tofu cut into thinner slabs to enjoy more seared and flavorful surface areas (the center of such a large piece of tofu never absorbs sauces, and tofu by itself is flavorless).
The salad on the entree plate was the same as the salad with the empanada, with the exception of an addition of a little quinoa, but I did not mind the duplication because the salad here, and previously, was good and not a slapdash afterthought like so many side salads can be.
I particularly like the From the Grill section of the menu that allows a choice of fish or meat from the grill and one starch and one vegetable side. It's a make-your-own entree option. Tofu is not listed, but perhaps they'd allow the substitution of grilled tofu for the meat or fish.
From my first look at Hoof + Fin, I'll conclude that the flavors are simple but balanced, and the Argentinian inspired food is well executed. If you're in the neighborhood, be sure to bring a bottle of wine to the tiny BYOB and enjoy an evening (or weekend brunch) close to home.
Hoof + Fin
617 South 3rd St., Philadelphia, PA 19147
Dinner: Wed-Sun, 5pm
Brunch: Sat and Sun, 11am-3pm