“The play’s the thing,” wrote William Shakespeare, but the life-loving Bard of Avon would have been the first one to insist that you have to eat, drink and sleep decently as well — especially if you’re about to see a play by him.
The Stratford Festival began previews for their season this week and so it’s a logical time to start thinking of where to dine and where to drowse in Stratford. The only thing to remember is that no matter where you plan on going, reservations are a must in July and August and are a good idea on weekends.
• Rundle Morris House – 9 Coburg St.; 519-271-6442, www.rundlesrestaurant.com/MorrisHouse.htm
This is probably the single most stylish place you can stay at the festival. It’s a one-of-a-kind house, superbly designed, with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, living room, dining room and kitchen. Breakfast is served and you can also have dinner from the superb restaurant next door.
• Mercer Hall Inn – 108 Ontario St.; 1-888-816-4011, www.mercerhallinn.com
It’s on Stratford’s main street and you can walk to any of the theatres in a matter of minutes, but the 14 rooms are so quiet and beautifully laid-out, you might think you’re in a country resort. Some of them even have double Jacuzzis.
• Touchstone Manor – 325 St. David St.; 519-273-5820, www.touchstone-manor.com
Even if you firmly believe you’re not quite a B&B kind of person, this one would change your mind in one night. There are four exquisitely appointed rooms in one of Stratford’s loveliest buildings, built in Georgian Revival style and if God is in the details, I hear this place is heaven, with downy-soft robes, bedtime cookies and morning coffee waiting by your door.
• The Church – 70 Brunswick St.; 519-273-3424, www.churchrestaurant.com
Yes, there are a lot of great restaurants in Stratford, but this is the one against which all others must be measured. The menu changes each year and this season promises delights like Coconut and Leek Vichyssoise, Rare Breast and Confit Leg of Squab and a Warm Upside-Down Fig and Frangipane Tart.
• Pazzo — 70 Ontario St.; 1.877.440.9666, www.pazzo.ca
You could easily visit this basement pizzeria here for years and truly never get tired of it. Cozy in cold weather, refreshing when it’s hot, it features a reasonably priced selection of fine choice salads and pastas, but the real attraction is the wood-oven, thin-crust pizza. You can customize your own or order one of their specials.
• Ken’s Chuckwagon – Behind Old City Hall, Downie St.
There’s a beauty to doing one thing well and Ken’s has been mastering it for decades now. The well-aged chip wagon opens behind Old City Hall about noon and serves french fries until sundown. That’s it. Nothing but chips.