*Special thanks to our friend Brendon (@brendonthesmilingchef) for being such a wonderful host and inviting us to this event
Ever encountered one of those people who continuously repeat the phrase ‘West is Best’ when you’re attempting to maintain a normal conversation? I’ve always found these people have never actually stepped outside the borders of Newtown and probably have never been acquainted with a station further than Summer Hill.
When you venture further than the drawls of ‘west is best’ crowds, you’ll be discover hidden pockets of surprises.
Walking into Windsor RSL at first may conjure images of bistros and schnitzels with a killer deal. However, as you round the corner of the entrance and enter Easy Lane, you’re welcomed into a floating garden scene, you almost forget where you are.
The cafe not only holds an impressive menu but also one of the most impressive craft beer selections I have ever seen outside a craft beer festival. The rustic and chilled out vibe certainly understates the formidable bar and paddock to plate menus that is represented behind the cafe.
I couldn’t help myself to look through the extensive beer and cider menu and immediately the “Cherry Popper Cider” stood out. With a surprisingly high alcohol content, it was almost like a fruity champagne in terms of light texture. Flavour-wise there was certainly a strong cherry presence but not without the strong apple taste that is classic with a cider. I hope that this cider becomes more available, because I can’t wait to have it a few more times.
We were introduced to Courtney, the executive sous chef who told us about their view of using locally sourced produce to really display the beauty of our Australian resources.
She followed by demonstrating the versatility of the kitchen with a round of entrees
The scallops were cooked perfectly with a slight caramelisation and slight bounciness without a rubbery texture. The addition of the roe added pops of salty flavour as you took a bite, the combination of the roe with the visual effect of the shell is reminiscent of the ocean. A simple but lovely combination, probably one of my favourites across all the entrees.
This was my first time trying battered oysters, most of the time I tend to eat oysters that are fresh or on the rare occasion, steamed.
Courtney assured us that she finds it quite surprising that most people who don’t like oysters will always like these. Taking a bite, I can see why. The oysters have the distinct taste of beer throughout the light and crispy batter. The overall oyster taste isn’t quite as strong but the light and delicate texture was most certainly there.
A good starter and a great dish as an introduction to an oyster virgin.
This was one of the most beautiful entrees that came out, in my opinion. The slightly red dusted calamari bites just popped against the bright blue plate. The dish arrived searing hot and looking wonderfully crunchy. On the first bite, all the beautiful spices that coated the exterior of the soft calamari danced across the tongue. Holding a little bit of heat but not so that it was overpowering. A cracking starter, probably another favourite out of the entrees.
Cheese filled zucchini flowers are always a winner, and this was no exception.
Filled with a mixture of ricotta and lemon, the zesty citrus combined with the light batter and doused in a healthy covering of harissa aioli. A no brainer, and a delicious one too, and with that last bite we moved onto the mains.
The hot smoked salmon was a challenging choice as I know that this technique can overcook the fish quite easily. But the curiosity got the best of me and I had to definitely give it a go considering our great track record so far.
The salmon had a gorgeous crispy skin and sat above a potato rosti and alongside a sweet and colourful pumpkin puree. After cutting into it, my anxieties were calmed as I saw a beautiful delicate medium rare interior. The smokiness was light but present with every bite and the simple taste of the salmon was the star of the dish without being overpowered by the smokey taste.
Easy Lane’s creamy Lobster Roll came with a sprinkling of caviar on top and a side of crunchy fries.
The brioche roll is packed with large chunks of tender and fresh lobster. I could taste the fresh saltiness through the creamy coat of sauce. Adding the briny pops of flavour from the caviar truly made this roll decadent.
The fries were just as enjoyable. Dusted in paprika salt, they had a subtle smokey flavour which complimented their crispy texture.
The star of the mains; the pork ribs, arrived in a huge oven dish style plating with an enormous serving size of ribs, extra sauce and a healthy amount of chips and salad on the side.
The whole table marvelled at the huge dish and the smell of mixed sweet spices wafted through the air.
Taking a bite each bone pulled away from the meat clean, showing the tenderness and care that has gone into cooking the pork. As soon as we took a bite, a combo of smokiness and sweetness was filled with the rich rendered fat that surrounded the tender pork meat. A 10/10 dish and a must order next time we visit again.
Both the Easy Lane desserts we tried that day were exuberant in texture and flavour, pulling pops of flavour from the fresh fruit to compliment the creamy custards below. I personally really liked them as the desserts weren’t too overpoweringly sweet and held a nice balance between sweet and savoury.
A quick special mention to the gorgeous lemon and blackcurrant cake that Brendon made. It’s absolutely beautiful!
Easy Lane was an oasis in the middle of Windsor, a breath of fresh air to get out of the inner west and into the the secret gems of the real Western Sydney.
Their respect for produce ultimately shines through with every dish and the team truly displays the versatility of their culinary technique.
Easy Lane is certainly deserving of future visits and I look forward to coming back here to discover the next season’s menu.