Thursday, March 12, 2009

Windmills Café: Dim but Delicious – January 31, 2009

I briefly considered skipping over this set of pictures because of the crappy quality. I am not a good photographer, by any means. When tourists ask me to take their picture, I always wonder if they’ll end up with a shot of my finger, or if I’ve accidentally cut someone out. It seems like all of the compositional skills went to Christine. Couple that with my arsenal of below-standard cameras (see note on the left-hand side), and you’ve got yourself some incredibly grainy shots of... actually, I can barely make out what I photographed! It was incredibly dark in the restaurant, which I think is my only complaint.

But I figured I don’t ever remember to take pictures when I’m dining out, so I might as well post these pics and write a short blurb. Anyway, ignore this post if your eyes are prone to bleeding after being assaulted by bad pictures.

Jimmy and I have been ignoring non-Asian restaurants because they are just too expensive. I can either choose a $28 steak dinner for one person, or spend $28 IN TOTAL for an appetizer, three entrées, drinks, tax, and tips (I am referring to Little Saigon’s dirt cheap menu, by the way) which fills two people. Although we went to the Keg a month before, my taste buds were dying for something not based on soy, oyster, or fish sauce. We decided on Windmills Café.

Every time we visit Windmills, we order their mussels. One night two or three years ago, we had their house mussels (double-smoked bacon in a white wine broth), and I just about swooned. So far, we’ve enjoyed every version they’ve made. This time around, we ordered one that we’ve ordered before—mussels with chorizo. I think it’s called the Portuguese. The dish is packed with flavour and spices from the chorizo, and I’m so happy they bring it out with a basket of bread. We ended up asking for another basket of bread to soak up the mollusc juice. Incidentally, we inhaled this appetizer before I remembered to bust out my camera phone, so no pics. Oops.

Jimmy wasn’t feeling particularly hungry that night, which is shocking, for anyone who knows him, so he ordered the charcuterie plate. It had some tangy cured duck breast, buttery prosciutto, spicy salami, fragrant pâté, and gamey venison sausage. The plate also came with slices of baguette and some tasty little olives. Jimmy didn’t like the duck breast because it looked raw to him. I happily devoured the little slices of slippery meat. He did love everything else. He mentioned that they were all salty (duh, it’s CURED) which means instant win in his books. Any other day, I would have stolen his plate for myself, but lucky for him, my food arrived an instant after his.

I ordered the salmon with some sort of glaze (apricot?). It came with sautéed vegetables and basmati rice. I remember the dish struck a delicate balance between salty, sweet, and tangy. The salmon was perfectly cooked, more fluffy than flaky. I loved the just-barely-cooked vegetable sticks. They were tender on the outside and crunchy through the middle. I know one was carrot, but I’m at a complete loss as to what the other vegetables were. One of the white ones tasted... earthy. Like celery root, but less celery. Similar to fennel, but minus the anise flavour.

Anyway, I loved the dish. It was a dish that demonstrated the skill of the chef who came up with it. The flavours complemented each other in every forkful. Often in a dish that contains so many flavours and textures, some parts begin to blend together. Here, the salmon was perfectly salty, the rice perfectly fluffy and fragrant, the vegetables perfectly crunchy and buttery, and the glaze perfectly sticky, sweet, and tangy. I found a dish that appealed to my taste buds as well as my appreciation for creativity. For the moment, it’s my FAVOURITE fusion dish. Definitely a must-try.

For dessert, we ordered the crème brûlée. (Yes, this is already half-eaten.) It’s one of my favourite desserts to order and also happens to be the one for which I have the highest standards. I prefer a room-temperature custard with a crispy, and not crunchy, topping. The custard had obviously been in the fridge (cold ramekins) before they blowtorched the sugar, so it lost a few points with me. However, the top half of the custard was warm from the aforementioned blowtorch, making me very happy. The topping wasn’t quite crispy, but it wasn’t crunchy either. It was... crinchy. Too thick to be crispy, too thin to be crunchy—I think my made-up word does it the most justice. The specks of vanilla were enough to make Jimmy happy.

Our bill with tax and generous tip came to $66, which I didn’t mind forking over. The menu tends to run on the pricey side, so we normally save Windmills for a special occasion. I suggest going for brunch or lunch, if you don’t mind waiting for a table. The dishes give you more bang for your buck, and the lighting is much better. Being able to see what you’re eating is always a good thing.


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Windmills Café
184 Princess Street
Kingston, ON
(613) 544-3948


  1. My bleeding eyes!! Aaaaarrrggg! So painful. You know, you'd be kicked out of my program if you took a picture like this. lol. Maybe not, but they'd be seriously concerned about your program choice. Hahaa!

  2. I know! Aren't those photos awful? I wish I made a better choice when I bought the phone. The mp3 part is awesome, but most of my pictures end up looking like these. I can change the manual settings, but what's the point if I just want to be able to pick up my phone and shoot?

  3. Speaking of altering points of view (you and Jimmy did not like Arisu), I must say that I did not care for Windmills. I've been there for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I've been there.... maybe 4 times in the last year (a friend of mine SWEARS by this place) but I've always felt like it was "meh". It isn't horrible (Arigato Sushi is way way worse). I've avoided it for the past few months but after reading your review, I am going to give it another shot. Thanks for the review!

  4. It must be a result of different palates, haha.

    We only go there once every few months, so I normally order their specials or the seasonal dishes. I have to drag Jimmy there because he doesn't like it much and the meals can get very expensive.

    I should mention, though, that Jimmy never likes what he orders at first, and mid-way through the meal, we will switch plates. He always ends up liking my entree better, but I usually like both. This review was one of the only times we BOTH loved what we ordered.

    Funny that you commented on Windmills because we dined there last night! I actually did find it "meh" this time around, but there'll be more details in the post.


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