Centre Island may have been shut down by lack of ferry service, but The Rectory Café lives on. While the media storm has been circling in the usual predatory fashion, painting the recent flooding as the reason for the Rectory’s closing, it’s not. The decision, from owners Ken McAuliffe, Sarah Willinsky & Mark Samuel came back in September when they decided to not renew the lease.
The business is for sale, and it’s one of the only places on the island to have a liquor license. Indeed, this is a special place. The shady patio is perched perfectly off the wooden plank boardwalk facing Lake Ontario. It’s entirely possible to drift away and feel like you are anywhere else — this isn’t the Toronto most people know. A true hidden gem, The Rectory has one of the best patios in the city, and at the time of visiting, the ferry traffic is almost at a standstill. The island is almost empty, no Centreville-crazed toddlers or sunbathing tourists to disrupt the scene. It’s quite possibly the best time to visit the island.
Not much pairs better with a pretty sunset than a chilled glass of Hidden Bench Rose ($11 for 5 oz) and a Muskoka chair to sink into. Their wine list boasts many Ontario faves, and some greats from California and Argentina. Cocktails, including sangrias by the pitcher, are worth savouring. The food menu is perfect summer food, too. Yes, burgers and pulled pork sammies but also inspired options like the Labneh ($13), made in-house and partnered with grilled pita, olives and roasted garlic.
While burgers and fries are no stranger to me, the Orange Miso Salmon ($28) is a show stopper — a massive portion of sous vide salmon resting on a bed of crispy bed of quinoa and sautéed bok choy is seasonal and sensational.
Desserts are on point too — prepared by in-house Pastry Chef Sergio Crisantes. The Apple Peach Crumb Cake ($10.50) is sublime. Summer, sweet and super moist, it’s a lovely finish to and a way to linger longer and soak up the scenery.
The historic building and its long love affair with islanders, tourists and city dwellers such as myself might be coming to a close, but with these amazing bones it’s sure to be snapped by a someone with buckets of money smitten with its significance.
The Rectory isn’t going out quietly though, with loads of events planned through ’til the bittersweet end. They’re currently open from Sunday to Wednesday 11-7pm, Thursday to Saturday from 11-9pm and they accept reservations, too.
What’s your favourite memory of The Rectory Café? Share it with us in the comment section or tweet us at @ViewtheVibe.