Home of the Brave
Home of the Brave is now open on King West, heralding the sophomore effort from Andrew Richmond, the street food hustler come art dealer, TUM alum, and owner of College Street taqueria La Carnita.
Inside, an ultra-urban vibe is achieved via steel clad walls, subway tiles and industrial finishes paired effortlessly with retro '50s diner-styled vinyl booths and custom neon graphics from John Contino. A chef's table peeks into the kitchen at the back, and there's seats at the windows upfront for people watching on King West.
The menu triumphs American comfort foods that celebrate low-brow, working class roots. Unlike La Carnita, which is focused on a niche cusine, this restaurant takes a broader approach offering original takes on regional specialties and homestyle classics.
For me, dishes like the Fried Bologna Sandwich ($9) evoke memories of grade school lunches, though in the case of this specific cold cut, they're not exactly happy ones. I recall the luncheon meat as thick sliced rounds, laid unappetizingly flat over Dempster's whole wheat bread with squirts of yellow mustard. The version here from Executive Chef Johnathan Hamilton is in another league. The over-stuffed sandwich gets an A+ for redeeming the deli meat with thin shavings piled into a tower with alternating layers of housemade American cheese, a sprinkle of toasted pistachios and spicy sour cream dressing.
The Waldorf Salad ($10) is a take on the all-American 19th century classic, first presented by New York's Waldorf Astoria. The requisite celery is shaved slaw-like and tossed with mache greens and apples in cider vinegar along with an entourage of toasted walnuts, roasted grapes, yogurt and a spice dusting. I love this salad! I had worried this place would major only in greasy, guilty pleasures, but I'm happy to find lighter, fresh (and vegetarian) options like this. I'll be back to try the Wedge ($11) as well.
The Johnny Cake ($14), a Rhode Island staple, is new to me. The cornmeal griddle cake is drenched in maple syrup and topped with smoked trout and a dollop of whipped chive-studded cream. It's sweet and savoury and awesomely flavourful.
The cocktail list is divided into three categories; original house blends, vintage American standards, and the "guest book," which will spotlight a rotating selection of recipes supplied by celebrated mixologists from across the U.S. I try the Summer in Sakon ($12), made with chili and spice-infused vodka, blended with pineapple juice, ginger beer and lime. Slushies and beer in tall cans are available too.
The Home of the Brave is open Monday through Wednesday from 5pm until 11pm, and until 2am from Thursday to Saturday. Lunch and take-away are coming soon. Reservations are accepted for parties of 10 or more.
Photos by Jesse Milns