Bassline Bar opened its doors about 2 months ago, on a stretch of Bloor just east of Ossington that even its owner admits has seen some significant changes. "Now, women feel safe walking here at night," he tells me, and while this might be slightly exaggerated, there are some hints that Ossington's boom is moving north.
I was a bit misled by Bassline's name, and went in expecting a smooth jazz venue--which on the first truly blustery weekend of the season didn't sound half-bad. My first impressions held up this idea--a wide front window looks into a dim, quiet space with dark seating, Edison bulb-lighting, and a sheened metallic bar. Martini glasses hang upside down from their stems, and there's even a man in a cowichan-style sweater.
The place is mostly empty just before 10 p.m. on a Saturday, giving us a chance to settle in before the crowd begins to trickle in (punctual, and in twos and threes). Since its opening, the spot has already received a significant facelift. Its original wood panelled walls have been stripped away in lieu of a stark off-white that's waiting for local artists to step in and erect a mural of the history of the bass, and the aggressively fluorescent neon lights have been replaced by a more soothing natural glow. A black-and-white film plays on two screens above the bar.
Despite its table seating and casual early evening vibe, Bassline's focus is house music.--"not too deep," I'm told. The space is long and narrow--DJs set up in a back room, and if you feel a tad assaulted by the beats, you'll find some respite by the front window. Dancing (or intense head-bopping, depending on your preference) space is at a premium, but then, this ain't your King West miniskirt-touting club.
The crowd is mostly twenty-to-thirty-something, with a few eager locals quick to introduce themselves to the bartender and dish out a hearty welcome. It's indicative of the neighbourhood's changing face--with two other new bars, including nearby Tallboys , Bloor and Ossington is receiving a better-late-than-never injection of nightlife catering to a younger demographic.
From Wednesday to Saturday, local electronic talent takes the stage, and aside from the occasional suggested donation, there's no cover. The acoustics aren't perfect (chalk it up to the spot's lingering doubts about whether it wants to be a local watering hole or bona fide music venue), but ten minutes into the first set, the bar is already thrumming with bass and the involuntary tapping of fingers.
Their draught list is short (Mill St. Organic and Tankhouse, $5 before 11, $6 after), but palatable, and while they have all the fixings for bar rail, opt for their cocktails. Their Harvey Wallbanger is just $5.25 before 11 p.m., and their incredibly tasty Apple Jack's is made with fresh spiced cider ($4.75).
Recently, they've added a menu--three types of panini for now, served with chips and a housemade dip, and plans to expand within the next month or so with gourmet burgers and crostini. As for immediate next steps, expect them to start opening on Tuesday for Industry nights. If you have any trouble finding them, just tune your ears to the sound of muffled, but still thumping, bass.