Keep in mind as you read that we are not food critics.
Our comments are strictly based on our palate, which perhaps lacks some sophistication. But we know where service is prompt and staff are happy – contented staff make for a pleasant experience – and cuisine is prepared with care, produce is fresh and desserts are neither soggy nor overloaded with sugar. This is the context of our comments.
The Mall (George Street) has become an 'eat street' for Windsor. George Street is a long street where cafés, restaurants and outdoor eateries sit side by side. Some, at the top of George abut historic Thompson Square and most along the length of George occupy buildings with a long history – Macquarie Arms pub (1814) probably outranks all of them with Bistro 1840 following close behind. Most cafes open early and close around between 3pm and 4pm.
Fortunately for those who come to Windsor to eat, some things do not change. Year in and year out, Windsor Seafoods continues to serve up terrific selections. If you want fresh calamari, prawns, or battered fish and chips, Windsor Seafoods offer the best in the area! Perhaps this is why so many return, year after year.
Address: 88 George Street
Phone: 02 4577 3647
Hours: Open daily 11.30am lunch; 5pm - 9pm dinner
Family-owned Windsor Chinese is perhaps the longest-serving restaurant in the area, at 37 years old. Reliability, consistency and longevity keep the locals returning. Now, following in the footsteps of his father, a young Adrian Yen is determined to maintain the excellent reputation.
Recently with our family, we ordered the garlic prawns and the serving is quite large. Each in our party orders for their tastes and grudgingly, we share. Adrian's philosophy is communal dining: make your choice and be prepared to share. Families find this an accommodating restaurant where children are welcome. Over holidays, we recommend booking for your group.
Frequently Adrian creates a new menu item – customer input is the first test, do we like it? Then the chef tests the time required to create the dish. Chinese cuisine requires spices – some subtle, others hot – and at Windsor Chinese, every dish provides an individual flavour of its own, so the 'tests' gather valuable and necessary input. If the two 'tests' meet the criteria, the item is added to the menu. Look at the menu board on the wall for these new experiments!
There are several rooms in this restaurant so large groups fit in easily and the experienced staff know how to adapt to last-minute crowds. The décor is as it has been for many years and some would label it old-fashioned. However, if the establishment meets our criteria – cleanliness, pleasant staff, appetising cuisine and serving-size suitable – we are happy.
Day in, day out, every weekday, a scene repeats itself, with little or no variation. By noon the sushi bar is filled to overflowing. Perhaps if you are lucky, a side-table is vacant. We are surprised to find the sushi bar comfortably crowded on a Thursday at 4pm. It seems customers are here during all open hours. On weekends and during school holidays, families arrive – Aussie kids have developed a palate for sushi.
We watch the staff prepare for the lunchtime onslaught. Neat, precise and efficient, they cut, roll and arrange each delicate piece on gleaming white china. Spicy tuna, white tuna, snow crab, tempura shrimp or a mizu roll – each is superb and the presentation is flawless.
WonderSushi is one of a few eateries open for dinner on The Mall on George Street.
It is rare when an eatery can combine a mix of home-grown Aussie favourites with an international palate, but owner Nabil Sarkis has managed this undertaking with finesse. Zazu Café broadens the Windsor's café scene with Lebanese choices on the menu. No longer is it necessary to drive to Parramatta for Mediterranean cuisine.
Zazu is relatively new on The Mall but is quietly making its way on the café scene with some great Aussie breakfasts: freshly squeezed orange juice, rich coffee and your choice of scones, pancakes or waffles. For the healthy minded, omelettes are at the heart of Zazu's early morning menu.
While al fresco café dining is very popular on The Mall, this day was drizzly and we were seated in the newly expanded café with its beautiful black wall suggesting flowing water. Salads were the order of the day – a salad of roasted Mediterranean vegetables was delicious – and this is but one item on the menu, which has very healthy options.
Our local 'sources' tell us that the gourmet burger is 'fantastic' and the corn fritters light with just the perfect amount of sweet. With each visit, service has always been prompt and pleasant – the chef smiles often so this must be a happy kitchen! Happy kitchen = lovely food!
The staff boxed a delicious orange cake, light and feathery, for us to deliver to our lucky family at home. Topped with perfect honeyed orange-zest syrup, this dessert was talked about for days. So, welcome to Zazu!
Performances: The Fitz is under new management as of late 2016. With a new focus on entertainment, music for the young crowd will top the bill. The stage at the Fitz is large and dark, great for performers and for audience alike – the intimacy of a personal performance gets the crowd excited and keeps patrons coming back for more. Early 2017 promises some terrific music. Check the website for performance schedules.
The Bistro offers traditional pub food – the chicken & avocado burger was perfect on a very hot Windsor summer day. At a neighbouring table, the steak and chips were a hit. So, if it is good filling pub food you crave, the Fitz Bistro should be on your list.
Address: 1/180 George Street
Phone: 02 9045 3944 or 0488 297 670
Hours: Open Wed to Sat 4pm 'til late, Sunday 10am - 6pm
Make your way to this snazzy tea and wine bar Wednesday - Sunday. It offers a touch of sophistication for Windsor Mall. (See Stay & Play)
Address: 250 George Street
Phone: 0414 486 758
Hours: Open daily from 7am
This little café at the foot of George Street with its 1900s Windsor ambience serves up old-school lemonade when summer temperatures soar. Bay Coffee from Neutral Bay is roasted in small batches and seems to be the current rage.
Sugar-free, gluten-free and dairy-free options are available.
Margo Keegan opened George St Loft in mid-2016 and the café has been in full bloom with clever interior design – pillows, hand-hewn wooden tables, lots of creative ambience and great music playing continuously creating excitement and an upbeat feel.
The place is often packed with diners in little corners, outside in the courtyard or the main room.
Specials change weekly – availability of fresh produce, fresh seafood and quality meats drive the menu. We tried the terrific Salt and Pepper Squid and our companion sampled a smashing BLT. For all you pie-lovers, savoury pies are cooked on site.
Fancy a lunch with wine? BYO corkage applies.
Thompson Square was the centre of activity in the Hawkesbury where markets, crafts and the notorious 'sale of a wife' took place. According to the Sydney Gazette (14 September 1811) Ralph Malkins led his lawful wife with a rope around her neck advertising the sale. 'This shocked and outraged all human or divine laws that he was convicted to 50 lashes' – we assume in Thompson Square – 'and put to hard labour in a gaol gang at Sydney' thus assuring Thompson Square ongoing notoriety!
Address: 335 George Street
Phone: 02 4577 3050
Hours: Open Daily 11am 'til late
Lunch on the patio, even on a warm Windsor afternoon is unrushed and relaxing – music is mellow and the service is prompt. A chicken burger with all those Aussie trimmings makes for a perfect lunch. Of course, we should have turned down that more-than-ample serving of chips!
With a new chef on board, the menu can definitely claim, 'Hawkesbury Fresh': veggies are purchased from Sciberras Fruit & Veggie market in Freemans Reach and a local Wilberforce butcher supplies all meats.
We are advised that the signature dish, 'The Chicken Hawk' is served in a creamy sauce and topped with avocado – the Bistro's claim to 'modern Australian cuisine' is spot-on!
While we enjoyed lunch outside of the 'rush hour' and an experience at a peak hour may be different, the service was prompt and the staff quite accommodating.