Home of the Brave (@theHOTB) is the newest addition to the comfort food scene in Toronto. Located at King and Portland (above Lou Dawg’s), this new restaurant is brought to you by the team behind La Carnita.
If you’re not familiar with La Carnita (@la_carnita), they’re a modern Mexican street food restaurant which started out as a pop-up serving tacos at the Toronto Underground Market (TUM) a few years back. They’ve come a long way!
Home of the Brave is their take on classic American comfort food with dishes that are perfect for sharing. The décor matches their American theme with its retro feel and vintage American décor. Like La Carnita, it’s quite loud inside from the music and isn’t the best place to have an intimate dinner.
The interior isn’t very large and they only take reservations for groups of 10 or more. For smaller groups, it’s first come, first serve. But they’ll take your number and call you when a table is free.
While waiting for a table, we started off with some cocktails at the bar: The Tombac Tippler – tequila Tromba, rose, chartreuse & grapefruit bitters ($12) and Blinker – rye, grapefruit & raspberry syrup ($12).
Between the two, I preferred the Blinker but my favourite of the night was The Wizard of Oz – Cynar, sherry, lime & orange bitters ($12), which we ordered later on. Unfortunately, I didn’t snag a picture of this one. Too busy eating!
The first dish to arrive was Bones in a Bucket – Kansas City rubbed beef and pork ribs, ranch dressing, celery & carrot ($18). I loved that they included both types of ribs in one dish and loved the slightly sweet and saucy ribs. While I preferred the pork over the beef, they were both excellent. It was a great way to start off the meal!
Up next was the Johnny Cake with Smoked Trout – cornmeal griddle cake with savoury cream, smoked trout, maple syrup & chives ($14). This sweet and savoury dish had elements of a breakfast dish with the cornmeal griddle cake (like a gritty pancake) sitting in maple syrup.
I enjoyed the smoked trout with the sweetness from the syrup but I’m not a big fan of cornmeal so I’m a little biased. If you ask Mike though, it was his favourite dish.
After hearing so much about the Kentucky Fried Handshake Sandwich – fried chicken, mayo, iceberg lettuce & Louisiana hot sauce ($13), we had to order it. The sandwich comes with the chicken foot still in tact. It’s easily removed with a quick twist and while it’s edible, there isn’t much meat on it. Nevertheless, it’s a fun way to present a dish.
The fried chicken was well fried with a nice crisp batter and moist, juicy meat. A dip in the hot sauce gave it a nice kick and made for a damn good sandwich.
Another sandwich we ordered was the Fried Bologna Sandwich – bologna, house made American cheese, toasted pistachios & spicy sour cream ($9). This definitely isn’t your childhood bologna sandwich.
It consisted of layers upon layers of thinly sliced fried bologna piled high on a sesame bun. The edges of the bologna had nice crisp edges and the pistachios added a bit of nuttiness and crunch to it all. It was on the salty side (it is bologna, after all) but it was still incredibly satisfying.
The Home of the Brave offers three sides for $5 each or all three for $12. Since they all sounded delicious, we decided to go with all three. First up was the Tater Tots – crispy potatoes, cheese, gravy, herbs which was served in a mini cast iron pan. The tater tots had a thin crisp exterior with a creamy, light and pillowy interior. There’s a bit of gravy on the bottom of the pan, so make sure you get a bit of it onto each bite.
Our second side was the Beets – lemon, dill, blackberry empire apple vinegar. The beets were on the hard side and while it was still a decent beet dish, it wasn’t very memorable.
Surprisingly, my favourite side was actually the Swiss Chard – with shallots & garlic. I’m used to eating it stewed down until it’s nearly mush but this was cooked perfectly with the veggies still retaining some of their crunch. Loved it!
The three of us were beyond stuffed by this point but c’mon, how can you resist ordering something called the Red Velvet Funnel Cake ($7). It consisted of a fried web of red velvet dough covered in macerated berries and topped with a scoop of incredible homemade vanilla bourbon ice cream. As if that wasn’t enough, it was covered with a generous drizzle of cream cheese icing. Can you say food coma? Worth it.
Overall, I had a fantastic evening at Home of the Brave. I loved their take on familiar childhood dishes and enjoyed the genuinely warm service. They’re a wonderful addition to King West!
At a glance:
• Serving up American comfort food with a modern twist
• Brought to you by the team behind La Carnita
• Located on King (just west of Portland), above Lou Dawg’s
• Only takes reservations for groups of 10 or more
• Open Monday to Saturday from 5pm for dinner; closed Sundays
• Favourite dishes: Bones in a bucket, swiss chard, Kentucky fried handshake sandwich
Ratings (out of 5):
• Food: 4 stars
• Service: 4 stars
• Atmosphere: 4 stars