Nearly Perfect Patios

One of the big thrills for Canadians is eating outside. Maybe this is because we can do it so rarely, while we navigate through so much bad weather. Throw in a pandemic and, by June, Peter and I were desperate to eat outside on almost any patio we could find.

June 11th came along and, with it, the announcement about patio re-openings. We barely took time to put on our shoes and lock the door as we sprinted to our favourite neighbourhood patio. It’s tucked in behind a pub, has a tarp over the tables to keep out the rain, and a large-screen TV for watching sports. Plus it has great food! All the tables were filled quickly on that first re-opening day, and the large-screen TV was ignored as people shared their stories of being stuck inside all winter.

Then one night a week later I had a dream – we were sitting on a patio on Queen’s Quay at the Lake Ontario waterfront watching the boats go by. I woke up Peter early to tell him where we had to go. We waited all day and got to the waterfront just in time for dinner – along with the rest of Toronto. The patios were jammed and there were long line-ups everywhere. Imagine – everybody else had had the same dream! Finally we found a new spot – the concert area had morphed into a beer place with limited entrees such as pizza and fries. It would have to do. And the lake view was a dream come true.

Next it was time to meet my brother and my cousin for lunch. One family lives in the Niagara area and the other lives in Port Dover, so we looked for a patio that was equal distance for everyone. We came up with a patio on Lake Ontario just over the Burlington Skyway. It was busy too so we went early and scored the prize – one of only 2 tables for 6.

I was on such a patio high after this that I called a friend who is always up for an adventure, and I suggested Casa Loma. This is a patio that Peter and I tried out last summer. The gardens were spectacular and the food was gourmet. I got a reservation for my friend and myself for last Tuesday night, although I had to leave a credit card number to hold the table. This was high stakes but we were both really excited and discussed what we would wear – something new, maybe even hats!

On the day before, we checked the weather and the forecast was for 30% chance of rain. We had a chat and decided to take a chance. But by Tuesday morning the forecast had changed to 60% chance of rain with possible thunder and lightning. We could picture our gourmet meals getting rained on and our new hats soaked as we wandered through the muddy gardens, hoping lightning wouldn’t strike a nearby tree. Finally, after a lot of waffling, we decided to cancel.

I went online and located our reservation. Up popped a message: “If you cancel this reservation with less than 24 hours’ notice, there will be a charge of $40 per person.” The other option, the message said, was to go to the patio, sit at our table and order the food, get rained on while we waited, then pay our bill and take the food home to eat. That didn’t sound like an appetizing option either! So should we pay $80 and get nothing, or go anyway and risk being hit by lightning? (Well maybe I am being a bit dramatic…)

What did we do? We did nothing! And soon enough the rain, thunder, and lightning started. Along came a message from the restaurant: “We notice you were a no-show for your reservation. Write your explanation below in 50 words or less.” I felt like I was back in elementary school, writing out my sins on the blackboard. But I did it, and I tried not to be too sarcastic about the lightning.

Well I’m pleased to announce that, instead of a detention, I got a pardon! The search for new patios continues. If you have a favourite outdoor spot for lunch or dinner, share it with our readers.


Our personal patio. Reservations required.

3 thoughts on “Nearly Perfect Patios

  1. I’m surprised that they did not get in touch with you saying something along these lines: Dear ……, We appreciate your reservation, but since the weather could cause danger we would like to cancel your patio table reservation. You are welcome to do a take out. Please let us know.


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