ROSSPORT -- This year will be the 33 in operation for Serendipity Garden Cafe in Rossport; a little oasis amongst the dense forest and rocky Lake Superior coastline. It could easily be mistaken for a small fishing village on a West coast island like Tofino or Salt Spring. Serendipity Garden Cafe makes it possible to stop and enjoy the supernatural scenery that the Superior coastline and surrounding forest has to offer.
Mary Burnett moved to Rossport in 1975 initially to manage the Rossport Inn, She fell in love with the area, and along with her husband Roger, decided to start their own restaurant and subsequently a guest house, so that others could stop and enjoy all the natural wonder Rossport has to offer.
“People come from all over,” says owner and operator Mary Burnett, “From Geralton to Hornpayne, Wawa or Sault Ste Marie. Sometimes people are travelling through to Thunder Bay while others come to stay for the weekend or longer and enjoy all the scenic trails and activities the area has to offer."
Mary is able to rattle off several amazing trails literally right at their guest house’s doorstep. Little Lake trail, Lake shore trail, Cascade trail, and other lesser known trails all around the area. Hikers will have the paths mostly to themselves to enjoy in solitude and fully surrounded by nature. Rainbow Falls provincial park is also nearby with several well appointed and maintained trails for all skill levels and ages.
Mary is quick to credit her long time manager Cathy with the ongoing success of Serendipity. Cathy has managed the restaurant since they began in 1988. The loyal, reliable and local staff has been vital to the ongoing popularity of Serendipity. They closed entirely during COVID out of an abundance of caution for the staff and their elderly family and friends. But they are ready for a big comeback this May 24, 2022 - long weekend.
Mary knows there are several dishes have become essential items on the menu at Serendipity. “I almost took the Chicken Supreme off the menu - but our kitchen manager immediately protested: ‘Customers come in specifically for it, we can’t remove it!’ so it’s been on the menu ever since. It’s a classic Julia Child recipe, Chicken baked with a creamy wine sauce served on rice pilaf.”
The “little quiches” also have been a long time staple and highlight of their menu. Mary remembers picking up some cookbooks from Curaçao. The popular little quiches recipe came from a sailboat cooking book, specializing in recipes that could be prepared in a solar stove. They were immediately a hit at the restaurant and have remained on the menu ever since. A fitting recipe for a lakeside town full of mariners and sailing enthusiasts.
We can’t talk about the food and not mention the best of all - the local lake trout. Mary employs a local fisherman from Pays Plat who supplies the restaurant directly and is a must-try. Cathy’s classic lasagna will likely be on the menu this year as well as their locally loved spanakopita. There’s something for everyone. “Lots of changes and discovery by chance.” Says Mary.
Serendipity is offering their incredible guest cottage for rental as well this season. Mary’s skilled husband built and designed the house. It blends beautifully with the surrounding area, boasting mystical forest or lake views all around. The vaulted ceilings of the upper interior space are surprisingly grand, creating a spacious yet cozy space for relaxing between hikes, sailing and delicious meals. “The lower two units have two queen-sized beds each and are wheelchair accessible. The upper two units have one queen-sized bed each, and it is in these two rooms that you get the full effect of the gothic arch design. It opened in the fall of 2001 and features four spacious studio units with full bathrooms, micro kitchen with fridge, coffee maker, sink, microwave and satellite TV.” They also include a complimentary continental breakfast. Your furry friend is also welcome for a $25 dollar daily surcharge which is a great bonus.
For your local getaway this summer, add Rossport to your ‘must-do’ list - the village will be bustling this summer. The staff at Serendipity are ready and excited to share their local treasures with visitors from all over. Whether it’s stopping by for a delicious meal at the restaurant or staying a few nights at their gorgeous guest house, Serendipity is ready to give tourists a taste of everything Rossport has to offer.
Check their website www.serendipitygardens.ca or call: (807) 824-2890 for further information. Mary, Cathy and all the staff are delighted to welcome you!