The Reveal – Cass Avenue
Snack bars have become as ubiquitous as white sneakers and plant-based burgers. But not all snack bars are created equal.
The newest arrival lands at Yonge & Eg, complete with made-for-Insta backdrops. But look beyond the neon signage and carefully curated for clicks Detroit Rock City backdrop, and you’ll find phenomenal Filipino fare and deftly-executed pub bites.
Provisions & Tipples
Dining out doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Cass Ave’s menu is structured into $5, $10, and “Baller” sections, so you can budget accordingly.
For a fiver, get snacks with a twist, such as Shishitos dusted with Tajin and lime, Cacio e Pepe Popcorn, or Fries with malt mayo. A ten-spot will get you a Smash Burger with “dirty” sauce, Fish Tacos, or Margherita Pizza (twinning with chef/co-owner Vittorio Colacitti’s The Good Son ‘za). Wanna level up? Reach for East Coast Oysters (6pc/$19,16pc/$44), Shrimp Cocktail ($21), Charcuterie & Cheese (reg $20, lg $35), or 16oz AAA Ribeye Steak ($65) with fries.
Daily specials happen from 4pm to 6pm, and again from 10pm to 12pm, with tailored feasts ($15) for each day of the week, such as Taco Tuesdays, Friday Farm to Table, and Saturday BBQ.
For tipples, look to an assortment of wine, beer, and uncomplicated cocktails ($11-$17).
Chef Timothy Lampitoc wanted his recipes of authentic dishes from the Philippines to be on the menu, and they’re a big part of what sets this place apart.
If you’re #TeamChicharron, you’ll be all over this ginormous fried bliss. You’re left to break off your own pieces from the oversized, puffy, gossamer, shatteringly crunchy pork crackling covered in addictive pickle seasoning - which is half the fun, and seems to last forever, given it’s the size of a watermelon.
Don’t forget the sawsawan - a Filipino dipping sauce made with vinegar, onions and chiles peppers.
Caesar Bites ($5)
Trotted out at dining rooms of every kind over the years, rarely does it succeed. It’s either too small, too limp, too under seasoned, or just a plain mess.
This iteration however, breaks the mold with it’s two-to-three bite dimensions, and crisp, cold romaine hearts that stand up to a thick blanket of bacon and crouton crumble and parmesan. Like salad, but make it portable.
Guacamole & Tortilla Chips ($10)
For once you get a whack of fresh guac and heaps of chips that doesn’t cost the price of an entrée, and will absolutely fill you up before the rest of the food arrives.
Filipino BBQ Skewers ($10/2pcs)
This dish in particular is an homage to Lampitoc’s tita Mayette, who owns a fine foods and catering company. Sticky barbecued pork belly skewers topped with red chilies, scallions and crispy garlic, served with a side of atsara - a zingy papaya slaw – are on point. And makes the case for more Filipino fare needed in the downtown core.
Thursday Filipino Feast ($15)
This will change weekly, but the debut featured a traditional dinner of tender chicken adobo, steamed rice, six crispy lumpia with housemade sweet and sour sauce, set atop a banana leaf. Authentic Filipino dishes at an uptown bar, with cheap drinks, lively atmosphere, and creative pub fare? Uh, yeah.
Southern Fried Chicken ($10)
Thick craggy breading with a familiar peppery bite clings to the bird with every bite. Served with creamy coleslaw, it’s a reasonable dupe for the Colonel’s - without the pools of grease to contend to with.
Korean fried cauliflower in gochujang is ten times more fun than cauliflower rice.
The extensive space offers an array of seating choices –bar area that takes up much of the middle; wood-lined patio that despite the Eglinton buses and traffic, extends summer feels; high tops set near the front on one side, communal table and cozier seating on the other. An elevated platform, complete with turquoise diner-style banquettes, allows for an uninterrupted view of the room, while in back, a separate dining room awaits.
The walls filled with music-themed photos and artwork, custom True Romance mural (by local artist Emily Conlon), and selfie spots scattered around the room (heart-shaped dripping paint installation, cheeky floor tiles: “nice underwear”) add colour and a certain vibrancy, while the relaxed, playful vibe is furthered by friendly staff, catchy playlist, and accessible prices.
Chefs/Owners Vittorio Colacitti, Nicholas Bourget, and Timothy Lampitoc
Timothy Lampitoc, Nicholas Bourget
Drop a pin
150 Eglinton Ave. E. (between Yonge & Mount Pleasant)
Come on in
Please be seated
Cass Avenue accommodates 175 guests.
For more photos, visit Toronto Restaurants on Instagram - @torontorestaurants.co.