What's the vibe
When you first enter Petty Cash, prepare for feelings of déjà vu and "Wait, haven't I been here before?" The short answer is yes, probably. However, the space at 487 Adelaide is so unrecognizable since it was occupied by Spirit House, you might not realize until after you've ordered your first drink.
Gone is the black leather and dim lighting. Nate Middleton (Home of the Brave) and Steve Gonzalez (Baro) have thrown up the blinds and replaced the cigars-and-scotch-in-the-library vibes with a pool table, a DJ booth and plenty of wall art that brings us back to its namesake, cash.
The pair worked nearby on King Street and have been friends since the Valdez days (the precursor to Baro). Their respective kitchens took turns to cook staff meals for one another, even taking an annual trip to Panama together – so when the idea of a collaboration between the pair was floated, it was a no-brainer.
Petty Cash, co-owned by the guys behind Baro and Capture Group (Portland Variety), hopes to become a neighbourhood bar where people will hang out long after they've filled their bellies.
What to drink
The menu currently has a handful of cocktails which Bar Manager, Karl Poldre, will be looking to add to in the coming months. For now, you can sip on classic cocktails like an Old Fashioned or a Negroni. If you're looking for something summery, grab the Froze, a slushed rose and strawberry puree concoction whizzed up in their machine. Try the equally refreshing Pineapple Zaddy, made with cava, Aperol, pineapple, lemon and orange. If you ask nicely, it may even come served in a gold, pineapple-shaped tumbler (the vessels have become something of a commodity).
A small selection of draught beer and wine by the bottle and glass is also available. They don't do pairings here, but if you need a little friendly encouragement, the menu offers some drink-spiration with add-on suggestions like a bucket of Sol or a glass of Prosecco.
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What to eat
Originally touted as a West-Coast snack bar, the menu has grown to take influence from Latin America and elsewhere. Middleton notes that California, like Toronto, has a little bit of everything so it seems fitting that the menu has evolved to a point where it's impossible to pigeonhole.
The menu is split into two sections; Fresh and Familiar. Fresh offers up plenty of plant-based options like the Taco-Bouta Salad or the excellent Faux Gras, a veggie twist on foie gras that not only tastes but actually looks just like the real deal, thanks to the addition of a little beet juice for colour.
Over on the other side of the menu is your "down and dirty" options. Classic staples like their popcorn chicken, buttermilk wings and tacos are all there for your snacking needs. The Not-So-Petty Burger is made with house-ground beef, adorned with special sauce and a pickle, and a bun stamped with their mascot, "Piggy Smalls".
The Carne Asada Nachos come with a tableside cheese pour (because, why the hell not?) The combination of flank steak, cherry tomatoes and chimichurri has a welcome sweetness that helps make the dish more manageable. Word of warning though: bring your whole crew as the serving is pretty epic – although, Middleton admits he has seen one "very hungry individual" complete the plate solo.
Dinner and drinks for two: about $75
487 Adelaide St W., 647-748-2274, pettycashtoronto.com