This is the first in a new Kiss the Cook series showcasing some of our favourite Toronto event destinations.
Perched alongside Toronto’s western Lakeshore, the Argonaut Rowing Club has long been home to some of Canada’s top amateur paddlers from gold medal-winning Olympians such as Marnie McBean and Brian Price, to a host of successful Argo Crew rowing teams. But it’s The Henley Room, the club’s intimate and elegantly-appointed banquet facility, that’s come to define it as one of the city’s top event spaces.
“We truly have one of the most beautiful views for a waterfront venue in Toronto,” explains Henley Room event coordinator Robin Banwell. “Our sunsets are unforgettable.”
So, too, are the service experience and the unmistakably unique atmosphere that, since the late 1950s, has attracted guests looking for the ideal spot for functions ranging from wedding and birthday parties to baby showers and bar mitzvahs. With a cozy capacity of 220 guests for cocktail receptions, 180 for plated dinners and 160 for events featuring interactive elements such as food stations or serving buffets—all layouts include a dance floor, of course—the Henley Room is a Kiss the Cook Catering fave!
Why? It all starts with the service.
Robin and her team have one goal in mind when working with clients: understanding their event vision and objectives, then helping to bring it all to life on the big day. While they’re not event planners per se, The Henley Room books multiple organizational meetings with clients in the weeks prior to their function to coordinate everything from table layouts to vendor details. “We want to know who all of their vendors are, so if something goes wrong on the big day, clients don’t have to figure it out—we can handle it for them,” Robin explains. The Henley Room team review all scheduling details, review rental agreements and logistics, and offer recommendations on key points such as event flow (think everything from the timing around cocktails being poured to the moment when dinner should be served).
That last part is particularly important because The Henley Room doesn’t cater its own events. They welcome the likes of Kiss the Cook Catering and some of Toronto’s other top event design and catering firms into their space on a regular basis, meaning they have a strong comfort level working with outside vendors. This is ideal because it allows clients to create and realize a very distinct culinary vision for their function. That helps when catering to a specific dietary preference (say, vegan or gluten free) or adding ethnic flare to a wedding menu, as just two examples.
That explains why we cater multiple events at The Henley Room each year. Here’s the even better news: we’re not subject to the city’s landmark fee when we use the space. That means you can save more of your budget to spend on amazing food and beverages!
While great service is essential, you have to visit The Henley Room to truly appreciate its unique appeal. Just as the lobby, dining room and bar area are all connected in an airy and open setting, each area has its own nooks. That serves up opportunities for quiet conversation or a quick break from the action on the dance floor. Then there’s the bar.
Not many event venues are well known for the variety of libations on offer. The Henley Room is one of them.
“We have between 15 to 20 beers behind the bar, as well as a selection of craft beers and ciders, and we can accommodate virtually any special request,” Robin points out. The venue also features a curated selection of three to four red and white wines, not to mention a selection of sparkling and rose wines. In fact, part of The Henley Room package includes a wine tasting before every event.
Not to be outdone, the Room’s selection of spirits is also second to none. They feature a bar fully stocked with everything from 15-year-old Glenlivet and Macallan Amber for scotch enthusiasts, to a fine selection of bourbons and clear spirits such as gin, tequila and vodka (we could list every item behind the bar, but this would turn into a VERY long post if we did). One detail we appreciate is that The Henley Room employs its own bartenders and bar backs, staff that are familiar with the venue and its uncompromising service standards. They’re also masters at preparing the venue’s four signature cocktails: the Negroni, Swedish 52, Paloma and Dark and Stormy.
Most guests will eventually wander outside with their cocktail to enjoy the sweeping lakeside vistas. “Our big draw is the outdoor space,” Robin says. Indeed, The Henley Room’s deck seems to blend seamlessly with Lake Ontario, the west-facing view creating the perfect setting for stunning sunsets. Not surprisingly, the space is well known for its dockside wedding ceremonies when the weather allows.
While there are several waterfront venues in Toronto, none have quite the same warm and cozy qualities as The Henley Room. With friendly, attentive staff and an inviting layout, it’s what makes this space an ideal option for intimate events.
Interested in booking an event at The Henley Room? Contact us now!
**Location images courtesy of The Henley Room at the Argonaut Rowing Club; photos by Mike Curry, N49 Photography