A few days before I left for Victoria, a new restaurant on King West opened: Home of the Brave (@theHOTB)! From the same guys behind La Carnita (@la_carnita), the concept this time is all-American goodness. Taking over the space above Lou Dawgs, HOTB is that chill space you want to dine at where the food and drinks are seriously good but they’ve still got a sense of humour about it all.
589 King St. W, upstairs
Reservations: No reservations (call 416 366 2736 for groups of ten or more )
Transit: 511 Bathurst streetcar + 2 min walk OR 504 King streetcar west (this is more direct but traffic is hectic)
Hours: Mon-Wed 5-11pm, Thur-Sat 5pm-2am (Sun closed; Lunch & takeout soon!)
I came with a friend here on opening night, ready to chow down on some good food. I’d had a preview of what to expect a couple of months ago at DOS when Home of the Brave (HOTB) tried the crowd with their Fried Bologna Sandwich. Oh by the way, it was delicious. Yay, love open kitchens! :D
The bar is a looker. Behind the bar you’ll find Taylor Corrigan (previously of Origin). Then there’s also the spiked slushies and cocktails.
The space is really nice. All over the restaurant you’ll find touches that evoke an all-American find of feel—if that makes sense. There’s graffiti along the top wall paying homage to the cities of inspiration. There’s also the motto, “Join or Die” that at first seems very extreme but makes a lot more sense once you understand the background—from an article written by Benjamin Franklin to rally the, then colonies of America to unite against British rule. “Join together…be united, or die”; get it now? :D I had no clue until the owner, Andrew Richmond enlightened me when I bumped into him at DOS.
Like I said, really cool touches that continues the “American” theme such as Liberty Bell shaped and top hats drum as light fixtures. The retro orange diner seating is another conscious choice.
Most of the items on the menu didn’t immediately standout to me since they all seemed familiar—which makes sense considering they’re putting a spin on some American classics. I’ve never had a lobster roll, crab cakes or johnny cakes before so we figured we’d start there first. Price points were very reasonable.
Buffalo Cauliflower (7) – beer battered cauliflower, Louisiana hot sauce, ranch dressing, celery, carrot
Give me anything battered and deep fried and I’m good! I’m not sure the beer batter added much lightness to the end product and I feel that some people may find it underseasoned?
Crab Cake Summer Bean Salad (12) – wax beans, frisée, cherry tomatoes, toasted hazelnut, roasted shallot dressing, poached egg, crab cake
SHO GOOD! I grew up with the notion that salad = iceberg lettuce, cucumber, tomato and Kraft dressing. This salad could not be further from that rabbit food! I loved every component of this salad; from the runny egg to the beans, to the hazelnuts!!
The Romantic Atlantic (Lobster Roll) (10/18/27) – tartar mayo, Atlantic lobster, lemon zest, dill
First lobster roll! :D We got the smallest one to share, it was so fresh! So far, it seems like there aren’t many repeat ingredients in the menu (surprising and impressive!)—and that probably also explains why you wanna try a bit of everything.
Johnny Cake w/ Smoked Trout (14) – cornmeal griddle cake w/ savoury cream, smoked trout, maple syrup, chives
The star of this dish was the savoury cream. Totally unexpected but it’s so good! Recipe featured in the Star today! (Hmm…so whipped cream + chives + versawhip eh? Interesting…)
Kentucky Fried Handshake Sandwich (13) – fried chicken, mayo, iceberg lettuce, Louisiana hot sauce
Although we originally planned to just grab a few bites at HOTB before a “second dinner”, Chef Nate Middleton insisted we try this. It was fantastic; so moist and delicious! And they left the foot attached (hence “handshake”!); so witty. I’d get it again and again. :D My friend and I are Chinese so the chicken foot didn't faze us at all. Mmm crunchy!
P.S. Chicken THIGHS are so underappreciated!
Red Velvet Funnel Cake (8)
Fresh, funnel cake. Yummy Fourth of July reference?! I’m not sure why this took me awhile to get the reference….blueberries, strawberries, vanilla bourbon ice cream; red, blue and white for the American flag! Gah. The drizzle was a cream cheese w/ orange. Why not lemon? haha LOVE LEMON.
Verdict: I arrived not knowing what to expect (beyond some American classics) but am now eagerly anticipating my next visit! Be sure to bring your appetite though because you’ll want to try just about everything on the menu and you’ll need lots of room for it. Standouts were the lobster roll (so perfectly seasoned and the chunks of lobster were very generous!), the sandwich and johnny cake. The whole gang’s got a great thing going. Sous vide machine for the NYC strip (for now!) and many more goodies to come. So, “fun” slushie anyone?
Check ‘em out! http://www.thehotb.com/
5 out of 5 NOMs