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.