International travellers come to the park with an assumption that there’s going to be a good restaurant,” says Ken McAuliffe, co-owner of the Rectory Café on Ward’s Island. He and cohorts Sarah Willinsky and Mark Samuel decided to give visitors what they expect. They invested like no previous proprietors and hired executive chef Richard Chambers and pastry chef Sergio Crisante. Their well-thought-out menu is very affordable and, as much as possible, follows the 100-mile food rule. Although the menu evolves continuously, people still request the LGBT sandwich (lettuce, guacamole, bacon and tomato) from the café’s original menu.
The award-winning forest-like garden patio is perfect for gatherings. “People go to the nude beach or other parts, then they come here with groups or on dates,” McAuliffe says, adding that men seem to be particularly drawn to the place. “They can’t help themselves,” he says. The interiors have recently been updated by designer Meredith Heron, and there are plans to improve the already beautiful patio.
The café’s name stems from the building’s history: it used to house the island church’s priest. “We get a lot of rectum jokes, or comments like ‘I’m an old wreck,’” McAuliffe chuckles. “Mostly, we’ll get people who don’t know what the word is. Some say the Refrectory Café. I never correct people. They know what it is and how to get here. After all, a rose is still a rose.”
The Rectory Café
102 Lakeshore Ave
— Eduardo Sabate enjoys bushwhacking on the island, then hitting the patio for a nice stiff drink.
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