Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the chain-laden Windsor town centre, Windsor Grill is a real gem.
If you visit Windsor, you could actually miss it. St Leonard’s Road, where the restaurant is located, is where the locals eat and sits just beyond a set of traffic lights tourists seem to use as a marker to stop their sightseeing.
Elegant and unpretentious, chef patron David Wilby’s restaurant is a favourite with residents but also corporates who want to wine and dine their clients and teams.
Housed in a conservation area (formerly a pub called the ‘Merry Wives of Windsor), the restaurant has its quirks. Its unique shape means there are plenty of nooks and crannies, each telling their own story.
One tale told regularly is the rumoured tunnel running underneath the restaurant. Legend has it that it runs to the Castle. Apparently, Kings had it built so he could transfer their concubines to and from the castle
I visited after a recommendation by one of my H&C EXPO colleagues who told me that it’s one of the area’s best kept secrets. He wasn’t wrong.
On arrival the first thing to strike you is the atmosphere. The soft lighting, low ceilings, and carefully laid tables give off the vibe of a high-end restaurant that gives you a cuddle as you come in.
The front of house staff are equally warm. Dilon, the general manager, greeted us and took us to our table.
He, like many of the team, has been with the restaurant for a long time having joined in 2009. Windsor Grill itself is one of the oldest established independent restaurants in Windsor. Longevity is important and experience shows.
After being seated, we are talked through one of the most diverse menus in town.
To start, I was told I’d be missing a trick if I didn’t try the blackened jumbo prawns, and creole mustard sauce. So I did. And it was spot on. A delightful combination of texture, flavour and colour. The ‘blackened’ element is the spice and the searing in a cast iron skillet, creating a deep charcoaly spicy taste that really gives your palette something to think about.
As for the mains, steak features highly on the menu, as one would expect in a grill restaurant. But what caught my eye was the fish mixed grill.
Prawn, scallop, squid, and three seasonal fish, peperonata, roast herb & garlic dressing – all on one plate. It was too good to resist.
The specials, which included New Season Asparagus, Pan-Fried Halibut with Crab Risotto, Iberico Black Leg Pork with Black Pudding and Apple Sty Pie, came in at a close second but my decision was made.
I wasn’t disappointed.
Six different types of fresh fish, cooked on a grill, accompanied by some scrumptious triple duck fat chips and crispy fried cauliflower with a cheese dip. I was very happy.
My guest ordered the a 9oz fillet steak au poivre. If it tasted half as good as it looked, it was a winner – and according to them it tasted better. The restaurant uses meat from lots of local sources, including the neighbouring Crown Estate. If it’s good enough for a royal…
The menu offered enough choice to fill an indecisive person with dread, and a real foodie with an opportunity to enjoy some really fantastic, seasonal dishes. A notable theme scattered throughout the menu is Wilby’s Cajun influences.
Having spent some time in the USA, Wilby learned about Cajun Creole food as it was all the rage. Its timeless flavour features in many of the dishes. Whether it’s the prawn jambalaya or the pork five ways, the influences are very obvious and delicious.
The wine list is equally impressive. Wilby hand picks the options and offers what I later discover to be one of the best Malbecs I’ve ever enjoyed. The 2010 Gauchezco, ORO, is really something and just one of a vast array of wines from across the globe. He has even sourced wines from a vineyard Her Majesty the Queen and Prince Philip visited on their honeymoon. Needless to say this was a hit with guests during the recent Royal wedding.
For dessert, we opted for the Eton Mess with a Windsor Twist, another fans’ favourite. The sharing dessert is very now. Offering a taste of six desserts, it is not only very instagrammable but it gives diners the opportunity to have a bit of everything. The ‘Windsor Mess’ was far from it. Each mouthful was filled with Berkshire loveliness.
We left feeling full and utterly content, and we’ll definitely be back.
Publisher, H&C News