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Goodnight

Photo: Dennis Marciniak

Posted by Jessica McGann / October 15, 2010

Goodnight opened in the deadpooled Goodfoot space on Richmond St just west of Spadina earlier this summer. I went to this much buzzed-about bar with a false storefront the other night with more than one reservation. That's a pun, you see, because this secret little hidey-hole is only admitting clientele that have a reservation, making it one exclusive little back-alley bar. So I thought this wasn't going to be my kind of place, because things that are exclusive bother me, because I wasn't popular in high school and now as an adult I want to reject businesses that seem like they might reject me before they get the chance to.

But once I made my way down the alley beside 431 Richmond, knocked on the door beside the small, unassuming sign that says "Goodnight - by reservation only", and followed the friendly young woman who answered the door into the dark, bookish-feeling space, my reservations (except the one that got me in) started to melt away. Passing through the forbidding iron door feels like entering a venerable old library, that anticipatory space between the curtain wings on a stage, and a revolutionary 18th century Paris brasserie all at once.

I had worried that gimmicks like the reservation policy or the bar's blank business cards with only the phone number adhered to them in labeling tape meant that Goodnight was some sort of douchebag hangout posturing for status, but once inside I clued in that exclusivity isn't what it's about at all. Making a reservation, keeping the signage discreet... it's all part of a thorough yet understated homage to the speakeasies of yore, and it makes for a perfectly concocted experience that's just slightly classier than the usual night out at the bar - not too in your face, but slightly more interesting than the everyday.

In the main room, stacked wooden pallets break the space down into cozy corners, old sewing patterns line the walls like wallpaper, and the bar is built up on a row of metal radiators. Behind the bar in swirling cursive, a chalkboard lists dozens of retro cocktails, the house specialties. Things are quiet until about 11 on weekend nights; afterward it gets packed - although the reso policy helps the bar keep the cap in the capacity.

Goodnight'll never be anyone's local, of course, since you can't just pop in, never mind the fact that you'd have to be a millionaire to pay for drinks here on a regular basis, but for a night out with a special sir or lady, a dry Manhattan when you're feeling nostalgic for other eras, or a nerdy night of debating literature while getting hosed, Goodnight adds just a touch of that old-time je-ne-sais-quoi to your evening.

Program this top-secret information into your phone and making an unplanned visit will be as easy as calling ahead for takeout: to make a reservation at Goodnight, call 647.963.5500 any time after 3pm.

Additional Details

Beers on Tap:
None
Signature Drink:
Retro cocktails
Bar Snacks:
None
Patio:
No
Music/Genre:
Hip, quiet, and ambient
Live Music:
No
Who Goes There:
Arts professionals, leftist yuppies
Hours:
6pm-2am daily

Discussion

52 Comments

Dooshnight / October 15, 2010 at 10:55 AM
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There's trying too hard and there's trying too hard. And then there's this place.

Right Wang / October 15, 2010 at 11:09 AM
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Leftist yuppies.

me / October 15, 2010 at 11:20 AM
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meh.

agentsmith / October 15, 2010 at 11:38 AM
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"...never mind the fact that you'd have to be a millionaire to pay for drinks here on a regular basis..."

So exactly how much then?

Department of Redundancy Department / October 15, 2010 at 11:40 AM
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"Who Goes There:
Arts professionals, leftist yuppies"


Awesome.

Almendra / October 15, 2010 at 12:02 PM
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The "false storefront" is actually not false. It's a vintage clothing store geared to men. Thought ya'll might wana know.
Somethings aren't meant for everyone. It's okay.

Paul G / October 15, 2010 at 12:03 PM
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I feel that this establishment is probably beyond being referred to as "ultra-secret" now.

Allen / October 15, 2010 at 12:29 PM
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You kind of blew it by making it public, nice work.

sunflowers / October 15, 2010 at 1:12 PM
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how are the drinks that expensive yet "arts professionals" and "leftist yuppies" can afford it?
sounds like the perfect toronto bar to me.

Greg / October 15, 2010 at 1:37 PM
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Holy cow! Blogto is getting really suburban(right wing/stupid). They're not called yuppies. They're called sophisticates. And yes, they are better than us.

Tom Tucker in 3D / October 15, 2010 at 2:41 PM
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Ohhhh "reservation," I get it.

greggg / October 15, 2010 at 3:22 PM
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This "bar" wont last just like Goodfoot. Matt George builds amazing concepts but cant manage them or make them last- another fail for him...hear he has partners on this one. So maybe they will help?

jon wright / October 15, 2010 at 3:28 PM
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GoodNight is one of the best bars, spaces, and atmospheres in all of the GTA maybe even all of Ontario. Not to mention that they have incredible drinks! Very stiff but you get what you pay for. I would encourage any one who enjoys real drinks to head down and check it out.

fun / October 15, 2010 at 3:42 PM
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great write up. All of us in Toronto sometimes hate things before we actually take them on. Love that the writer admitted this and then went on to write a proper review. I'm a big fan of this place and live 3 doors down! trouble

Biftek the Critic / October 15, 2010 at 3:46 PM
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I'm not rich, but I didn't find drinks there to be that expensive. I'd say between skid row and King cheezy West. Guess everyone wants something they can't afford. Maybe skid row is better for some.

Biftek the Critic / October 15, 2010 at 3:56 PM
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Not a leftist yuppy millionaire, but I didn't find the drinks to be that expensive. Though haven't had all of them. I'd say somewhere between skid row and king cheesy W prices. Guess everyone wants things they can't afford. I'll go back. GREGGG hates MATT GEORGE! Who's Matt George?

rambler / October 15, 2010 at 3:56 PM
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if you like new york you will like this place

Biftek the annoyed In replying to a comment from Biftek the Critic / October 15, 2010 at 4:00 PM
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MY COMPUTER KEEPS DELETING AND POSTING MSG's. BLOGTO FIX YOUR SHIT PLS.

notso / October 15, 2010 at 4:06 PM
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not so secret - www.thestar.com/living/fashionweek/article/874740--the-fashion-pack-s-preferred-party-places

kstop / October 15, 2010 at 4:58 PM
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I'd like to applaud whoever set this up for taking 50 poseurs a night out of circulation. I only wish I had a hangar or a grain silo that I could donate to the cause.

Japhet / October 15, 2010 at 6:09 PM
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What drinks are on the list specifically? How much do they cost? How do they compare to other places offering similar cocktails?

These are all things that should be mentioned in the review.

goodthing / October 15, 2010 at 7:15 PM
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Best spot in Toronto hands down. The owners have a good thing going. If this was in any other city all of you commenting from your couch would be saying how "cool" it is. Only one thing is a little off for me and that's pricing

goodthing / October 15, 2010 at 7:16 PM
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Best spot in Toronto hands down. The owners have a good thing going. If this was in any other city all of you commenting from your couch would be saying how "cool" it is. Only one thing is a little off for me and that's pricing

anonymous / October 15, 2010 at 7:29 PM
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glad to see toronto finally has something along the lines of new york's pdt or little branch; hopefully the quality of cocktails at this joint lives up to the standard set by those two.

Samsmith / October 16, 2010 at 5:33 AM
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This space is soft. 319 Spadina is better and is open all nite.

mr. hood / October 16, 2010 at 7:27 AM
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this place would do well if there was a food option, which by law, they are supposed to have for patrons...

just sayin

Japhet / October 17, 2010 at 4:24 AM
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The disparity between this review and the one below leads me to believe that Jessica got distracted by the concept of the bar and forgot to actually review the drinks.

http://www.nationalpost.com/todays-paper/Four+simple+lessons+libations/3680822/story.html

choppery / October 17, 2010 at 2:14 PM
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"So I thought this wasn't going to be my kind of place, because things that are exclusive bother me, because I wasn't popular in high school and now as an adult I want to reject businesses that seem like they might reject me before they get the chance to."

I love that you said this so earnestly, without trying to make it snarky or witty or cutesy.

ian / October 18, 2010 at 1:10 AM
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I brought some friends from Montreal and London there for a night out recently - we all felt the room, music and staff were spot on.

Thanks all, we'll be back soon.

(also, on a side note - "choppery" - well said - I agree.)

Trish / October 19, 2010 at 4:45 PM
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As someone who lives nearby, I can definitely tell you the guys who run this place all have attention deficit disorder. If they're not ripping up and renovating the store, they're slumming it outside on the sidewalk, plotting their next move. Better check out their after-hours club soon, because in six months it might just be a nail spa.

trishnewtoarea / October 20, 2010 at 12:10 PM
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Trish - the guys there have been in business for 10 years on Richmond. I know one of the owners. Not sure if thats considered A.D.D??? have you done anything for 10 years strait?

Trish In replying to a comment from trishnewtoarea / October 20, 2010 at 5:25 PM
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@trishnewtoarea: I've lived there 10 years, and walk by twice a day. I remember the building before their arrival, well before they painted it black, when it was a tailor shop. The guys moved in and eventually opened three shops, each with it's own sign. But they eventually ripped those down, and eliminated one of the shops (can't remember the name, but the others were Goodfoot and Ransom). Believe me, these guys can't stick with one thing for too long except smoke cigarettes and talk on their cellphones. And as for my doing anything for 10 years straight -- well, that's easy. My job. I guess it's a concept clubbers don't understand.

Mel / October 20, 2010 at 7:53 PM
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It just goes to show you how utterly facile the "poseur" patrons are. Surely they know what goes on in that alleyway - drugs, street people, human waste etc, yet they negotiate the vomit, piss, feces and spit wearing their Louboutins and Ed Hardy all in the name of "by reservation only"...

Yyzgirl / December 15, 2010 at 11:50 PM
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I've been to Goodnight 5 or 6 times and it's the best bar In TO - excellent cocktails (a bit pricey at $12-14 but worth it), an interesting mix of friendly people, great music, and a comfortable atmosphere. I've met artists, film producers, college students, computer programmers, doctors, professors and have struck up some very interesting conversations and have also just hung out with my friends. It may have a veneer of exclusivity and pretentious but I encourage people to check it out first before declaring judgment.

mr. hood / January 7, 2011 at 12:00 AM
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temperance society is far better than this place.. the membership is worth it as they hold unique tasting events(free for members) monthly, which pays for itself really. Also they've put a lot of dedication into their mixology, and sourced out some great products.. if they dont have something you want, they will stock it on the shelf for you in future visits.. they have a food program too, so if you are hungry, and want something to nibble on while you sip your amazing drinks, then you have options! It is quiet, but alas, better for a slower paced evening

karin / January 8, 2011 at 5:03 PM
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It's so incredible that a reservation policy is seen as snobbish or exclusive. Would you balk if a restaurant took reservations for their seats? Oh wait. What's the difference?

Nate In replying to a comment from Trish / January 10, 2011 at 1:25 PM
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Good Zing!

Brandon / February 7, 2011 at 12:01 AM
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I was looking forward to checking this place out (as I'm a fan of barchef and places like Franklin in Philly and PDT and Milk & Honey in NYC) and wasn't put off by the reservation policy.

However, when we showed up for our 10:30 reservation, the place was full and we were left to stand clueless and looking lost in the middle of the room. We were ignored completely for several minutes until I asked one of the staff where we were supposed to sit. He motioned towards a booth that already had a couple in it and said, in broken English, "Maybe you can ask them to share." Needless to say, we left shortly after that.

Clearly customer service is not at the top of this Goodnight's list, but hey, if they want to ignore me while serving "hip" media and PR types blowing their pathetic 50k salaries on $14 cocktails, all the power to them. I prefer to spend my money at bars that actually serve me.

If you're going to be a bar that exclusively takes reservations, you should at least honor them and not ignore people who show up for them. Attentive service is a requisite when I think about a high-end cocktail bar.

Jay / April 18, 2011 at 4:42 PM
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Holy douche alert. Brandon, sir, you are exactly the type of person I'm glad they decided to weed out of their clientele.

"... but hey, if they want to ignore me while serving "hip" media and PR types blowing their pathetic 50k salaries on $14 cocktails, all the power to them. I prefer to spend my money at bars that actually serve me."

How deliciously modest of you. Have fun remaining a poseur, sir!

kenny rogers / April 19, 2011 at 1:35 PM
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"He motioned towards a booth that already had a couple in it and said, in broken English, "Maybe you can ask them to share." Needless to say, we left shortly after that..."

How dare they hire someone who speaks broken English... To add insult to injury, sounds like they've got foreigners working there. Worse, maybe he was French!

Midnight Dawn / June 19, 2011 at 8:42 PM
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I suppose if you're the proprietors of Goodnight and have an entourage out front that originates from a notorious criminal intersection in north Toronto, you feel pretty safe.
You folks claim your club is about upscale entertainment driven by an enlightened clientele. You're smack in the middle of a hardworking middle class neighbourhood, and you continue to flaunt your superiority and assault us. A nine-to fiver like me isn't welcome at your club because it's assumed we don't have the cultural currency (drug connections).But I had to laugh this weekend, when 3 cop cruisers showed up in the wee hours of the morning to check things out. Yeh, and there you all were, drinking beer on the sidewalk in the evening hours on Sunday. Here's hoping the Toronto PD see this place for what really is and acts accordingly....

Scott / June 28, 2011 at 3:14 PM
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Drake/OVO/XO/Highly shot "Marvins Room" here.

Frank / July 26, 2011 at 11:06 PM
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Don't worry, the bar won't be around very long.

The building has been sold, along with the King Textiles building. Condos soon.

Mel / August 5, 2011 at 12:36 PM
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It's become a hang out for people forever standing on the Sidewalk.

The Pontiff / August 9, 2011 at 2:04 PM
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Just wait for "Repeal" to open in December. The MSM and bloggers will cream when they find out its shtick.

K In replying to a comment from anonymous / September 27, 2011 at 3:07 AM
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If this place is anything like Little Branch in New York then it has something special going on for it and is worth checking out.

Midnight Dawn / October 21, 2011 at 2:34 PM
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I had to laugh during the Film Festival - this place was so desperate for celebrities. Hugh Laurie pulled up in his limo, got out, took one look at the alleyway he'd have to navigate and jumped right back in the limo. The driver sped away in the direction of the Thompson Hotel. They had to settle for Leighton Meester instead..

Henri / February 3, 2012 at 4:48 AM
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well... good athmosphere. good genuine people and good music. It could bw a bir more electro, minimal beats cause I think that would be more appropriate for the venue and the crowd but thats my personal taste in music so def. +1
staff +1 too - very helpful and organized, especiall door guys. Regrettable however, and thus -1, is I ordered a side car and no bartender knew wat that was. I was agressively remembered that "we do only the drinks on the board". Damn sorry. Good drinks = BarChef,attitude = goodnight. Don t go this way guys brassai is going down, stay legit. especially with "no attitude" marketing. Please keep employing real people who know their job. Tanks tho! Awsome as ALWAYS!

Kenny / February 3, 2012 at 1:07 PM
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Damn. This generation really irks me. Have people really all become too lazy to spell check, form complete sentences and show even a modicum of literacy? With patrons like Henri, I will be sure to stay away from "Goodnight".

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FAX / May 2, 2012 at 11:48 PM
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Sounds like this bar i went to many times in wellington new zealand called motel.... but i doubt it could be better than motel... motel was amazing.

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