New York style pizzas and Western Sydney’s largest range of craft beers delivered in casual alfresco style. Every inch of this place oozes character – 4.5 out of 5.
Address: Windsor RSL, 36 Argyle St, Windsor, NSW, 2756
Last visited: 8 January, 2016
Must Try: Any of the Pizzas and The Fried Chicken Wings.
Review: Based on a meal provided with compliments of Easy Lane
In December, I was invited to the launch of Easy Lane at Windsor RSL for an exclusive sneak peek at the latest addition to the growing culinary scene in Western Sydney. Ceramic tiles meld into brown cobblestone and I am welcomed with smiling faces and greetings from the wait staff who usher me into the heart of the event. I’m thrilled to be here! It’s about time we in Sydney’s West experienced good food, cooked brilliantly and served in a relaxed alfresco-style venue closer to home.
Every inch oozes with character, from the rusty wagon wheel chandeliers to the potted herbs with miniature chalkboard posts that mark the table numbers. Polished wood, steel and antique fittings blend with hanging ferns to create an atmosphere that makes you feel like you’ve stepped into your dream backyard; complete with two handcrafted bar areas, a wood fire pizza kitchen, lounges and alfresco dining. The dining room features a retractable rooftop allowing a seamless transition from indoor to outdoor – which is quite handy given the number of storms we’ve had this summer.
Patrons gather in circles and sip colourful cocktails and schooners of local craft beer as they unwind to live country and soft rock. I was sorry that I was driving that day, which meant I unfortunately missed the chance to sample from beers on tap. None-the-less I did enjoy a glass of ruby-red cranberry juice served ice-cold; a great thirst quencher on a Summer’s evening.
I return to Easy Lane on a Thursday afternoon in early January with my friend Nicholas Rider, a talented portrait and event photographer. We’ve been invited to enjoy a three-course meal with drinks courtesy of The Atticism and Easy Lane. We’re shown to a corner table for two in a sunny position
Manager Paul generously takes the time to give us an overview of the restaurant, saying he wanted to create a space where people could come to relax and unwind, enjoying each other’s company and sharing great food. A kind of venue which we both agree is long overdue in the Western Suburbs. Still, it’s great to see that things are changing.
I believe it’s due to the population growth from housing developments in the area. As Sydneysiders swap the hustle and bustle of the CBD for a more relaxed life in regional NSW, they bring with them the desire to seek out quality local produce and great dining experiences.
Grant Jones, Food Editor of the Herald Sun, seems to agree. In this article, Jones suggests the high rents within the city are pushing restaurateurs further away from Sydney. Both tree-changers and sea-changers, he says, play their part, ‘pushing demand for increasingly better food, wine and cafe options far from the madding crowd’. It’s the same for us locals too. Having experienced a taste of higher dining standards in the city areas, we now seek these same experiences closer to home.
It’s a little quiet for a Friday lunch but I’m enjoying the range of ‘90s hits from John Mayer’s Daughters and Corrine Bailey Rae’s Girl Put Your Records On, both of which are on my iPod playlist. Evening sessions at Easy Lane often feature live performances, and I’m told it’s often best to make a booking. But enough about the venue, I’m starving!
Being responsible drivers, Nick and I passed on sampling the local craft beers once again, but I will definitely be back to try one of their local brews, and maybe a glass of the Summer Holiday or A Bit Nuts cocktails – with a designated driver in tow of course. In my opinion though, it was way too warm a day for alcohol, so I settled with my trusty glass of icy cranberry juice. If you’re dining with friends, Easy Lane offers a range of shared Cocktails and Sangria too!
The meals at Easy Lane are mostly based around sharing plates and boards. A quick glance at the menu and I feel my mouth start to water. Nick and I both know we cannot look past the 1kg Fried Chicken Wings ($24). Our waiter tells us we’ve made a good choice, saying that most people are surprised by the generous portion size.
The wings arrive in all their glory. They are stunning to look at with a sticky, red barbecue glaze which I know I will enjoy licking from my fingers soon. Best of all they are unbelievably tender! The meat practically falls off the bone, and the sauce is tangy, spicy and caramelised with all those gorgeous golden bits that are just wonderful to nibble on. I’m enjoying the blue cheese sauce which matches perfectly with the sticky glaze. It’s so creamy and unctuous, but I wish there was more. The coleslaw and celery sticks provide just the right amount of veg to make you feel like you haven’t been too naughty with your order.
From the pizza kitchen located at the main bar you can watch the chef roll balls of leavened dough into large discs, then expertly spread with a house sauce and a range of delicious toppings. We’re keen to sample one of the tasty wood-fired pizzas so Paul suggests the Cajun Chicken Pizza ($40) which comes in a shared size.
It’s huge, roughly the size of a coffee table, and loaded with chunks of spiced chicken, creamy green avocado, sun-dried tomatoes and ridiculously delicious streaky bacon. An absolute gem of a dish and quite probably one of the best pizzas I’ve had to date – this includes pizzas I’ve sampled across Italy too!
I cannot forget to mention the cheese. I know I spent at least fifteen minutes taking photos of the pizza and taking to Paul about Easy Lane while our pizza sat patiently waiting to be devoured. Despite this, it was still as stretchy, warm and cheesy as ever. Check below for proof.
I’ve never been to New York, nor tried New York Pizza, but if Easy Lane’s offering is anything to go by then I cannot wait!
Nick and I both decided that a burger was in order. Unable to choose between the Chicken or Beef burgers we found solace in the Easy Trio of Sliders ($26) – mini brioche buns filled with Pulled Pork, Braised Beef Short Rib and Honey, Garlic and Soy Merriwa Quail.
The pork was tender and delicate but could have benefitted from some smoky barbecue sauce mixed through. Still, the apple slaw proved to be a winner and you can’t beat the combination of apple and pork. I quite enjoyed the tender, smokey beef which sat on caramelised onion and worked wonders with a touch of honey mustard. The quail proved to be a surprising number with its smack-in-the-face wasabi slaw. In a little bronze pot to the side were crispy hand cut chips. They were well seasoned and made from golden, buttery potatoes with the perfect crunch.
Most meals are served on platters carved from up-cycled from wooden off-cuts from the bar and kitchen. They feature designs inspired by Moby Dick, Edvard Munch’s The Scream and even a chicken. Easy Lane’s woodcrafter hand-turns each board into a unique treasure before they are stamped with the official branding. It’s a sign of the thought that goes into every detail at the restaurant, which ultimately leads to a great overall experience at Easy Lane.
I have to admit that I’m stuffed to the brim way before thoughts about dessert even creep into my mind. We couldn’t even finish the whole pizza (instead Easy Lane Staff happily pack it as a take-away to be enjoyed for dinner that evening). Paul recommends the Cheese Board ($35) and a Trio of Gelati, offering to surprise us with the flavours. I see a trend happening here…good things come in threes and all.
We are presented with the gelati first. Perfect scoops of salted caramel, rainbow swirl and bubblegum gelato arrive drizzled in a mixed berry compote. The salted caramel is superbly creamy, though with a slightly more sweet-than-salty toffee flavour. The rainbow and bubblegum flavours are quirky, colourful and fun, though the bubblegum is slightly grainy. The berry compote provides a gentle acidity to foil the sweet, creamy gelato and is the perfect match with the berry sauce. The gelato flavours change regularly so be sure to check the specials board to see what’s available.
Then the Cheese Board is presented on ‘Moby Dick’ (remember the hand-crafted boards I mentioned earlier) –a colourful arrangement of locally made Blue Vein, Camembert and Cheddar cheeses served with a wedge of quince paste, strawberries, dried figs and apricots, walnuts and lavosh. You can’t fault a good cheese board and this is certainly one of them.
I only have good things to say about Easy Lane. The service is exceptionally friendly and warm and staff members will go out of their way to ensure you are having a great time. Meals were well-cooked, delivered within reasonable time and with a wide range of options there is definitely something for everyone. Do try a pizza and the chicken wings and if you can, book a table in the evening to really make the most of this exciting venue which I’m sure will be of great inspiration to many food ventures in the not-too-distant future.
Food Presentation: 5 out of 5
Taste: 4.5 out of 5
Service: 5 out of 5
Atmosphere: 5 out of 5
Overall: 4.5 out of 5
Have you been to Easy Lane yet? Let me know what you think in the comments section below. Share your recipes and food photos by tagging #brendonthesmilingchef and #whatsbrendoncooking on Instagram or Tweeting to @bthesmilingchef.
Happy cooking and keep smiling,