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Restaurants

The White Brick Kitchen

Posted by Liora Ipsum / Reviewed on June 12, 2012 / review policy

White Brick KitchenThe White Brick Kitchen opened this past week at 641 Bloor, offering a casual setting for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. Named for the white brick building facing Euclid, the former Eggsmart location is now home to this family owned eatery helmed by brothers Stephen and Matthew Howell.

These guys are mama's boys – and I mean that in the most wholesome and endearing way possible. It's only fitting that the menu is based on classic American comfort food. Stephen, the head chef tells me "if your mother used to make it, we'll serve something like it..." The concept is simple, "standard food done really well".

White Brick KitchenBoth men are graduates of George Brown; Matthew, the general manager, studied hospitality management, and Stephen, culinary arts. Each seems well suited to their role; Matthew offers really warm and attentive service, Stephen brings the passion for food and experience. Having worked at The Stockyards and butchering for Rowe Farms and Beretta Organic Farms, Stephen is clearly a carnivore's ally and passionate about serving good food made from quality ingredients – the house-made sausages and cured meats are a testament.

White Brick KitchenAlso on hand for service today are the Howell's parents and also another brother (there are four). The right atmosphere is here, but, it is definitely a credit to this warm family dynamic and not so much the decor. The builder's beige walls and tile floors lean more towards diner than family restaurant. The very focused, but casual menu evokes (for me) an eclectic, homey vibe, but here, the decor falls short of the concept. At only a week old, there is surely still room to grow and the space has good potential.

White Brick KitchenLunch and dinner menus feature all the familiar classics; mac 'n cheese, tater tots, meatloaf and fried chicken. I'm excited to see Deviled Eggs ($4) on the menu, served with olive tapenade and fried onions. Today, we are here for brunch, but, already I'm plotting my next visit to try the Confit Turkey Club ($14) made with house cured bacon and brown butter sage mayo.

White Brick KitchenThe brunch menu is divided into savoury and sweet. Staples like The Benny ($10) and The Classic ($8 for 2 eggs any style) are on offer, but we order some of the more unique items like, the Muffins and Gravy ($8). The sage sausage and cheddar gravy is super rich and served over a house-made english muffin with a side of homefries. This is total hangover food.

The Scotch-ish Egg ($9) is a playful vegetarian option and features two panko fried, semi-soft eggs on top a thick-cut baguette and finished with brown butter hollandaise. The accompanying arugula and aged provolone salad is tart and cuts the richness well.

White Brick KitchenOn the sweet side, the Breakfast Custard ($7) is a nice twist on the standard yogurt (who eats yogurt when they go out for brunch anyway?) This dessert-like brunch offering features a creamy egg custard generously topped with fresh fruit and cinnamony, maple-honey oats.

The White Brick Kitchen bucks the trends that most restaurants aspire to. The point here is not to be the most trendy or original but instead, to appeal to the nostalgia of the past. These guys could perhaps benefit from a couple weeks to work out the kinks, but the menu seems solid and I can totally see neighbourhood residents embracing this good, old homestyle kitchen.

Liquor license is pending.

White Brick KitchenWhite Brick KitchenPhotos by Stephani Buchman

Discussion

31 Comments

Brandon / June 12, 2012 at 09:24 am
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I was going to try brunch there on Sunday, as it's right across the street from me, but their patio wasn't set up (the chairs/tables were all stacked in the corner). That was kind of disappointing as we didn't want to sit inside on such a beautiful afternoon, so we went to Butler's Pantry instead. We're planning on going back for dinner one day, as the whole menu sounded fantastic.
Jane / June 12, 2012 at 11:02 am
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You had me until "Liquor license is pending." haha...kidding. Excited to check this place out, especially once the patio opens. I'd really like to see a website with the hours and full menu though?
Hezeus / June 12, 2012 at 11:37 am
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I'm skeptical. This seems to be a little more expensive than your usual breakfast-diner-style resto, and similar in price point to the place that used to exist here.
tony / June 12, 2012 at 04:08 pm
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looks like someone threw up on some pancakes.
Tom @ Stockyards replying to a comment from Hezeus / June 12, 2012 at 09:37 pm
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Hezeus, be excited, not skeptical! You have a great addition to your neighbourhood. Expertly prepared home cookin' classic. It should cost twice as much.
Brownfoxjumpedoverlazydog / June 13, 2012 at 12:26 am
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"Liora Ipsum". Nice pen-name.
Justin / June 13, 2012 at 12:54 am
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I live in the area and eat out a lot so I definitely will try this place. But I think the price point is a touch too high for this neighborhood.

The sandwiches range from $12-14 (brisket burger, grilled cheese, confit turkey club, pork n pickles) and mains between $14-17 (meatloaf, fried chicken, pork chop). But there are many restaurants nearby that offer hearty, family-style Korean food (probably cooked by a Korean mama) for around $10-14 or less. And there's also Sky Blue Sky which has sammies for around $5. So I don't know how good I feel about paying $13 for a grilled cheese (that's higher than Cheesewerks) or $17 for fried chicken in a space that used to be an EggSmart and physically hasn't evolved much from what it was before.

But the menu items do sound really appealing and I love the idea of it being a homey restaurant that serves quality food. So theoretically, it could be a place I'd dine at as a local joint every other night, if only the price were right. Pour Boy is packed every night. Not saying their food is any good, but it does say a lot about the demographic of this neighborhood and what kind of establishments thrive here.

And considering the decor isn't great, I don't can't imagine a lot of people who don't live in the area wanting to go out of their way to come to Korea town to dine in a former EggSmart.

But welcome to the hood!
Jimmy / June 13, 2012 at 04:20 am
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If they don't serve liquor, Jimmy will not take his women there.
no / June 13, 2012 at 04:24 am
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yes, there are any number of korean restaurants in the area, but that's an entirely moot point seeing as how nothing about this restaurant has anything to do with that fact other than perhaps that it seems to be located next to one. it's embarrassing for all of us when you bitch about high prices (yeah, because those $8 breakfast plates are reeeeally gonna break the bank) for food that is (allegedly) done mostly in house. i'd rather shell out the extra couple bucks for something that doesn't taste like the package it came out of. very interested to give this spot a try
OOO___OOO replying to a comment from Brownfoxjumpedoverlazydog / June 13, 2012 at 08:31 am
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Derek says that it's real. BELIEVE.
GranVizeer replying to a comment from tony / June 13, 2012 at 08:38 am
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Shush! It's supposed to be a secret recipe. Oh, and those are some very flat home made English muffins, so its says there.
torres / June 14, 2012 at 02:57 pm
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this place is brilliant.
Chloe / June 14, 2012 at 07:17 pm
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I visited the White Brick and wanted to try as much food as I possibly could in one sitting! I had the tatter tots, friend chicken and tried a bit of each of the desserts. Let me tell you, it wasn't easy to eat all this stuff within about 2 hours. But everything was amazing! The fried chicken is literally half a chicken! A monstrous amount making it well worth the $17. The tatter tots were tasty and cute and came with a nice sauce. The desserts were deadly! Each one was topped with a beautiful house-made garnish including sponge taffy (sooo delicious)
I'll definitely be going back for brunch soon :)
Wally B. / June 17, 2012 at 05:28 pm
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This place is amazing! recommended HIGHLY!
Lynsey / June 18, 2012 at 03:42 pm
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I went there last Saturday and it was fantastic! As was previously said, the tater tots were great, as were the mac n cheese and turkey sandwich. The menu has great options and I'm very eager to go back again and again until I've tried everything. I think the prices are great because you get what you pay for - all the food is made with quality ingredients and they don't cut corners. The bacon in the sandwich was the best bacon I have ever had, and the cheese sauce on the mac n cheese was soooo creamy and delicious. I highly recommend every item mentioned above, and am dying to go back for brunch, which looked even better.

Side points: the staff were very friendly, love that they give you a jug of water so you don't have to keep bugging the waiter for it, and I'm not sure why everyone is complaining about the decor - I thought the place looked very clean and simple, which I like, and I'm sure they will improve on it at some point but they did just open.
Gus / June 24, 2012 at 04:19 am
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Spent my afternoon today eating a delicious burger and fries and drinking copious amounts of coffee at this fine establishment. Let me first say, the service was great. Matthew is quite the welcoming server and between him and his brother, they make quite the culinary duo.

The burger I had was seriously awesome. At $13 for the burger with fries, I was a little weary of dropping that much coin for what I was expecting to be a simple meal. A simple meal it was not. This was a burger forged to perfection. Within this burger takes place a war between simple elegant beefy goodness and exquisite, sweet, complex flavours. The fries were homey and crisp. The fry sauce had a smokey honey quality that paired well with both the fries and the burger.

All in all, I had a damn good time eating some fresh, house made food.

10/10 would munch again
Catherine replying to a comment from Justin / June 27, 2012 at 04:54 pm
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@Justin.. you have written a very long post about the food and its cost, BUT it seems you haven't eaten there yet!

I just had lunch there today and I will tell you, the food is worth the price. We were actually shocked at how low the prices were for the obvious quality of food received. We had the confit turkey club, pork & pickles, chili cheese fries and the daily side special of spicy garlic broccoli. All was wonderful and we will return.

Others are mentioning the decor... and it's true, it leaves something to be desired(!) But the friendly service made up for the sparse interior.
Jb / July 7, 2012 at 01:02 pm
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Had a fantastic dinner here the other night. Tater tots were great, friend chicken as good as the top places in the city, excellent sandwich. Can't wait for the liquor license, will definitely be back and would recommend it to anyone looking to eat something other than the countless Asian options on that stretch of Bloor.
p / July 13, 2012 at 10:10 am
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FYI - they apparently got their liquor licence.
DM / July 15, 2012 at 07:44 pm
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For those who have their doubts, I cannot tout the merits of the White Brick Kitchen enough! Although there are some that find the prices problematic, $14 for the Turkey Club -- arguably the greatest sandwich I have ever eaten -- feels paltry for the incredible quality and flavour. While Sky Blue Sky maintains a passable sandwich menu, the difference in flavour is all too apparent -- White Brick Kitchen is leagues beyond it's neighbour. I am notoriously hesitant about bacon, but the BBLT, which features house-cured beef bacon, has given me unprecedented cravings. The quality of the ingredients, including the thick butter-fried bread, and the portion sizes are a perfect balance between incredible flavour and utter satiety -- that is, while undeniably indulgent, WBK's sandwiches are never overly rich. Total perfection. Sunday brunch, which thankfully runs until 5 pm instead of the standard 3pm, is excellent as well, with the Scotch-ish Eggs being a superb, meatless alternative to the half-hearted Bennies of other establishments. Fantastic.

All in all, while some find the decor lacking, I find the humility of WBK refreshing -- attention is placed foremost on service, as well as the tightly edited, expertly wrought menu. I appreciate this absence of gimmickry and pretension in a city filled with too many restaurants reliant on flash, fashion, hype and misguided experimental menus! Again, modesty and quality are the dual tenets of the White Brick Kitchen, and I would recommend it to anybody looking for an undeniably delicious, comforting meal.
B / July 19, 2012 at 04:02 am
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So many praises yet every time I pass by the restaurant there's rarely any patrons inside. If the price and quality of food is so spot on why aren't any of you ever inside?

I really hope these guys can succeed but if they can't attract customers especially on a busy street with plenty of foot traffic how can you deny there isn't a problem of some sort.
Diana / September 8, 2012 at 02:50 pm
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I went there last night. It was AMAZING. Seriously. I tried the homemade chips and fried chicken. I will definitely be going back.
Bee / September 10, 2012 at 12:41 pm
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Commenters above may have bashed the Muffins & Gravy dish for its appearance, but it is absolutely delicious. A great option if you're like me and prefer savoury to sweet when it comes to brunch. Don't knock it until you try it!
Ren Davis / September 28, 2012 at 06:51 pm
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I'm super impressed with this place! Went with my family and every single thing we ordered was perfectly delicious. When does that even happen? Everything was homemade and great quality and just, well, great.

Admittedly, at first I thought the prices were a bit of a splurge, but after the fact I've got to say that they're actually pretty reasonable considering the portions and quality.

My boyfriend and I tend towards trying something new every time we eat out, but with this place we were immediately planning our next visit. Can't wait to try the rest of the menu...
Nat / November 9, 2012 at 06:19 pm
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So the other day my buddy was like, "White Brick Kitchen's turkey club sandwich is amazing!" And I was like, "It's a friggin' turkey club sandwich, how can that be 'amazing'?" But then I tried it, and now I understand.*

(*My working theory is that it's just because every ingredient is super fresh... and the homemade bacon probably takes it up a notch. That, or possibly WIZARDRY?)
Jer / December 10, 2012 at 08:49 am
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Still not sure why this place isn't busier. Maybe people keep walking if they don't see a place a bit more full....when. Dined I was the only person in the spot but it was worth it. Great fried chicken (but wasn't a fan of their biscuit) and good sides. Hope they get the recognition they deserve.
JLL / March 10, 2013 at 06:45 pm
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LOVE this restaurant. It's simple, really GOOD food. I can personally endorse their breakfast, the awesome sausage gravy (I order it as a side for my home fries every time), the macaroni and cheese, the burger, the chicken, the turkey and biscuits...everything I've had has been excellent, the service is so accommodating, and they play music that's actually relaxing and not intrusive.
JEB / July 19, 2013 at 09:52 am
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#9 on NOW's list of Top 25 New Brunch Spots! http://www.nowtoronto.com/guides/brunch/2013/index.cfm?page=4
Piper / March 22, 2014 at 11:21 pm
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White Brick Kitchen is the best! I always leave with a happy tummy. Love the Swiss mushroom melt, love the fried chicken (occasionally atop a waffle)... last time I had the sloppy Joe and it blew my mind... heck, I've never eaten anything here that was anywhere short of delicious. Service is really friendly as well!

I hope they keep getting busier! They deserve every ounce of success!
Lizzie / March 24, 2014 at 06:46 pm
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We live down the street from white brick and it's phenomenal. The comments about the price vs quality are accurate: it's shocking you're geting such a delicious meal for the cost, but don't question something so great!

I too am surprised it's not busier, but I just thank my lucky stars that my favourite dinner spot is usually easily accomodating.

I have one major burn up about this place: the hours. They say they close at 9:30 but we have been straight up turned away at both 9:00 and 8:45 multiple times before, saying that they wouldn't have time to complete the service before they closed... I have worked in service all my life, and your closing time is the time you take your last client/table. Not an arbitrary time ahead of closing that gaurantees you get to finish up at the precise moment your clock hits the hour.

But let me say this: despite how much that bizarre policy annoys me, the food is so damned good, I haven't written it off. That says a lot.
Molly / July 29, 2014 at 12:43 pm
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I had a craving for southern fried chicken and went based on the ranking on blogTO and it's proximity to my place. I hadn't noticed this place before because I'm usually beelining for some Soon Tofu in that neighbourhood.
I called in a takeout order but think I will try brunch another time. The chicken looked awesome: crispy and quite a large portion...I think maybe even half chicken with side of salad for $20. Unfortunately, the taste was unsatisfying and frankly, lacklustre.
Given all the great food reviews, I will give something else on the menu another try.

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