I've had a few old school friends and work colleagues who grew up in Windsor, and they speak fondly of their years there. But that was years ago, back in their teenage years, and they've not spoken of their favourite bars or restaurants since moving away from the family nest.
I mention this because I often wonder if a city transplant could find a spot in a quiet, cosy suburb like Windsor and claim it as a favourite haunt. Whilst all the regular joints that Windsor is famous for are lovely, they're very touristy - where's the local flavour?
This is where Easy Lane steps in. Located within the pretty well appointed Windsor RSL on Argyle Street, Easy Lane is, as the website calls it, "new and unique culinary offering to Sydney's Northwest".
Customers packed into Easy Lane's main area
But it's more than that. It's bright and airy, and eager to please. Which it does – the woman at the front desk of the RSL on the day I visited for Saturday lunch told us confidently, "Oh, you'll love it! It's lovely!".
Decked out like an inviting back garden at someone's home, the venue itself gives off a little of a Wild West vibe, with its succulents scattered around the main floor, vintage signage and other memorabilia that makes you think of the actual wild west. It's spacious and colourful, and fitting for Windsor, itself an area known for its space and tranquillity.
We're seated at our table, and looked after a friendly waitress who's bubbly and attentive. We start our full-on eating session with an Apple Cider Sangria and a plate, to share, of Szechuan Dusted Calamari ($24). Thank the gods they were cooked perfectly – not chewy, but soft like they melted in your mouth!
A couple of tables fill up – there's a family of about 5 or 6 (an older couple, a younger couple and 1 or 2 kids), a couple at another table having a leisurely lunch and a table of 4 giggly young women, wine glasses filled and being waved about to accent every. Word. They. Spoke! It dawned on me that this was the kind of place you would frequent for a perfectly chilled out time with your nearest and dearest.
Our mains arrive, recommended by our waitress. We get the Reuben Sandwich ($20), made with corned Angus beef, pickled cabbage and Swiss cheese, held together in a grilled brioche, and the Prosciutto Salad ($20), made with honeyed fig, rocket and gorgonzola. I wrongfully pre-judged the salad, assuming it will do no good in filling me up but boy was I wrong! Our waitress had asked me prior to placing my order if I was going to be OK with the gorgonzola's strong taste, but as a seasonal devourer of blue cheese, I welcomed her suggestion excitedly. It went together well with the prosciutto and the meal was definitely a highlight!
We notice more diners taking their places at the surrounding tables. Though I can't be sure if they were locals or visitors, I could see they were a mix of young and old, families and friends, people who wanted a cool place t chill and people who've gathered for an occasion. It gave off a good, relaxed vibe.
Our dessert was the Sliced Apple Pizza ($18), and we could smell the apple crumble-like aroma as it made its way to our table. Topped with salted caramel sauce, custard, apple crumble and gelato, it was delicious, and if you happen to visit Windsor and need a sugar fix, this is the dish you need to try.
Sliced Apple Pizza
Easy Lane also offer a wide array of drinks (including wines, cocktails and 4 types of sangria), so there's always something for anyone who wants a fun drink (like our Apple Cider Sangria, or a cocktail called the Magic Moscato, made of vodka, berries and sauvignon blank) or a drink to make you and your mates bond over shared worries (try the Poisoned Apple, made with Captain Morgan Spiced Rum, apple and lime).
Because I'm not a Windsor local, I can't say this as a hard fact, but it's safe to bet that Easy Lane will be a new fave local joint. The service is friendly, the venue is appealing and the food, whilst not pushing any culinary boundaries, does firm fan favourites and does them really well. You'll want to make a repeat visit, whether you're a local or a visitor.