What’s on the menu at Sounds Good, the newest addition to Toronto’s burgeoning listening bar scene

What’s on the menu at Sounds Good, the newest addition to Toronto’s burgeoning listening bar scene

Featuring a former Alo sous-chef in the kitchen

A spread of dishes and drinks at Sounds Good, a listening bar in Toronto's west end

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Name: Sounds Good
Contact: 1756 Dundas St. W., soundsgoodtoronto.com, @soundsgoodtoronto
Neighbourhood: Brockton Village
Owner: Dylan McArthur
Chef: Carson Corbeil (Alo)
Accessibility: One step at entrance; accessible washroom

In 2020, Dylan McArthur wasn’t sitting around wondering when the world was going to return to normal—the self-described “nerdy audiophile” was dreaming of opening an event space that would house both a sit-down restaurant and a listening room as well as a separate area for ticketed parties. “I wanted a space with a sound system unlike any other in Toronto—specifically designed with an early American horn-based system and full powered amps,” says McArthur. The DJ and owner of the label Tambourine Party Records was passionate about his dream, but he knew he couldn’t do it alone. “My interest and expertise was in building a truly superior sound space, but if I was going to make all aspects of my idea work, I would need a proper team of collaborators with a vision that aligned with my own.”

The team at Sounds Good, a listening bar in Toronto
From left: Rob Turenne, Dylan McArthur, Kathy Marsh, Carson Corbeil and Ludovic Bacs

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He brought on hospitality vet Rob Turenne (Quetzal, Bar Isabel, Parts and Labour) as a consultant to build out the restaurant portion of the space, and Turenne loved the project so much that he stayed on as general manager. Through his industry connections, Turenne hired chef Carson Corbeil (a former sous-chef at a little place called Alo) to make music in the kitchen. Now, Sounds Good—the latest addition to the city’s burgeoning listening bar scene—sits at the corner of Dundas and Lansdowne, offering hi-fi grooves, high-low snacks and, of course, bass-induced adrenalin highs.

The food

Featuring wholesome bar snacks that employ punchy global flavours without ties to any specific place, it’s a menu that prefers pop to pomp. There are deep-fried dumplings with miso, chili and sesame and a tartare made with local beef, aged cheddar and house pickles. Plates of pillowy gnocchi pop in brown butter enriched by tender squash and burrata. And crunchy-on-the-outside falafel arrives on a bed of creamy house-made tahini, hummus and bright tabbouleh.

Falafel served on house-made hummus
The falafel are served on a mound of house-made roasted-garlic hummus and finished with roasted beet drizzle, pickled onions two ways (turmeric and red wine vinegar), sesame and za’atar. $16


Salmon crudo
Thin slices of salmon are lightly cured in sugar and salt for 30 minutes, then joined by beets, house chili oil, lemon juice and olive oil. The dish is finished with dollops of chili yogurt, umami-forward fried capers, crispy shallots and Maldon salt. $15


"The Burger" is chef Carson’s cheeky take on the steak tartare at Sounds Good
Corbeil’s take on steak tartare starts with Canadian tenderloin that’s hand-chopped and folded into a house-made beef-fat mayonnaise along with mustard, brunoise shallots, capers and diced gherkins. On top: chives, grated Grana Padano and shaved cured egg yolk. Fried rice crackers are served on the side for scooping. $18


Fried duck wings
These duck wings are confited for four hours in duck fat, star anise, cinnamon, peppercorn and shallots, then flash-fried. They’re tossed in a house-made Thai chili sauce and garnished with roasted peanuts, chilies, Thai basil and a pile of julienned dehydrated ginger. $17


The drinks

There’s a rotating list of batched cocktails as well as all the highball hits and crushable beers to match the low-key vibes of the soul, jazz and funk that fill the space. The real focus, though, is the wine program, built by vino guru and assistant general manager Kathy Marsh. All the bottles are low-intervention or fully biodynamic, thoughtfully produced, and a little weird (but in a good way). Like the food menu, the wine list doesn’t focus on certain regions but is a reflection of places Marsh has visited or people who have taught her what she knows about wine.

An Old Pal cocktail
The negroni-esque Old Pal is a batched cocktail composed of stirred rye, Campari and dry vermouth. $16


Bottles and glasses of red and white wine sit on a table in front of a speaker at Sounds Good, a listening bar in Toronto
A few bottles from the current wine selection. Viñátigo’s Listan Bianco is a volcanic white from the Canary Islands that has a beautiful smoky minerality ($16 glass, $75 bottle); Bombolla is a crisp, natural cava with mousse-textured bubbles and a clean finish ($15 glass, $70 bottle); and GioGio is a fun, accessible Italian red from Piedmont with notes of dusty strawberry and crunchy tannins ($17 glass, $80 bottle)

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The space

On the main floor, walnut booths lined with mid-century-modern seafoam cushions sit on stark concrete flooring and run the length of the Dundas-facing windows. A spindled walnut bar suggestive of ’70s-style speakers faces a tiled DJ booth that’s tucked away, decidedly not centre stage. Meanwhile downstairs, there’s room enough for 120 party people in a space minimally illuminated by coloured strip lights and filled with enough speakers to power a music festival.

The main-floor dining room at Sounds Good

Looking from the DJ booth to the bar at Sounds Good in Toronto

Two-top tables in the main-floor dining room of Sounds Good, a listening bar in Toronto

The DJ booth at Sounds Good, a listening bar in Toronto's Brockton Village neighbourhood

The bar at Sounds Good, a cocktail bar and listening lounge in Toronto

Mirrors hang on the walls by the bar at Sounds Good, a listening lounge and event space in Toronto

The basement event space at Sounds Good is dimly lit with red neon lighting