We live on a lake but you’d never know it. Torontonians have been robbed of their waterside and there’s no time we feel this stronger than in the heat of summer.
But there’s a culinary solution called The Rectory Café.
Second bonus: You’ll forget you live in Canada’s biggest metropolis and may feel a little Riviera coming on as you settle into the Rectory’s spacious patio and point your chair towards the blue, blue, blue of the lake view beyond.
That’s what we did on a recent lazy Sunday afternoon. We were on our bikes and took the first ferry. No matter that it went to Centre Island. It was a 10 or 15-minute ride past all those Centreville shenanigans to Ward’s idyllic southern boardwalk. Watch for the sign, turn left and enjoy the cafe’s regal lakeside entrance.
Thanks to a little inside info from the staff, we started with a tall glass of Barking Squirrel amber lager produced by Toronto microbrewery Hop City. It’s no secret that I love beer and the squirrel really satisfies with its rich burnt orange colour and what Hop City calls “noble hop aroma”.
We paired this with the perfect app: Char Grilled Calamari ($12) draped in a lemon oil and scallion thyme aioli. The calamari was perky and tender to the bite, its inherently bland personality enlivened by a perfectly piquant sauce.
Next, the day’s “special”. If you’re a devotee of Anthony Bourdain, you won’t go near a restaurant special but at the Rectory, it’s a must. This special was so fine, I have to apologize in advance that it’s not on the menu. Imagine the world’s best fish taco: juicy morsels of spice-rubbed Basa fillet topped with caramelized onions and salsa verde on a simple wheat taco softer than a cloud.
David opted for the Steamed Asparagus and Goat Cheese Omelette ($14) and was not disappointed. Okay, omelettes seem simple but can be a disastrous, eggy mess if handled poorly. This one was fluffy, light, and turned by an angel.
I considered dipping a straw into the Rectory’s trendiest drink for dessert. But I was hesitant… did I really want to sip from a tiny can of Italian sparkling wine made from some royals in Austria that have hit the drinking waves with their Prinz Max Emanuel Thurn und Taxis sparkling bianco?
Bucking the trend, I ordered cake instead. The Rectory has a long list of desserts but the best are always, again, the specials made in house by pastry chef Sergio. Even the house-brewed coffee is above average. The only thing that doesn’t seem to work at the Rectory is a rainy day. Most of the seating is al fresco.
That’s why I love their website http://therectorycafe.com/ where you can plug into the weather forecast and the ferry schedule instantly to plan a little Riviera in Hogtown this summer season.