Simon Lam loves to eat. Although he isn't a trained chef, he sure knows what good food tastes like.
A Bit of History
Windmills began as a Dutch grocery store selling homemade specialties back in 1983. It then became a popular breakfast and lunch cafe. The establishment moved to its present location on Princess Street ten years later to become a full-service restaurant. It has since become a very successful restaurant in downtown Kingston.
Windmills offers an eclectic menu featuring dishes from around the world. They strive to serve locally produced ingredients whenever possible. Many locals consider it the go-to place for breakfast and brunch.
Windmills is a medium-sized restaurant with a rectangular configuration. As you walk in, you are exposed to their warm, brown, brick wall in the front half of the restaurant. Towards the rear are white drywall panels separated by black columns. Adorning these walls are beautiful paintings. These are periodically changed so there is always new artwork to be seen.
Ceiling and wall lamps provide soft lighting. Spotlights also provide illumination of the walls and artwork. When we were there in December, we also saw white Christmas lights hanging from the ceiling.
There was a mix of different tables and chairs. On one side were brown wooden tables and what looked like metal chairs with wooden seats. Our table on the opposite side of the room was wooden and painted black. The chairs were also black and made out of wood. I was sitting on a banquette.
They had a great selection of music playing on their stereo system. We heard songs ranging from Fleetwood Mac to Michael Jackson. As stated on their website, your senses, from sight of artwork to sound of music to smell and taste of their food, are all satisfied.
They have a Mediterranean-influenced menu. However, you will also see some Asian dishes as well. We were here for lunch so this menu represents their lunch menu.
Starters, Soup, and Salads
For appetizers, they serve Soup Du Jour, Spinach, Chipotle & Artichoke Dip, Mixed Baby Greens, Herbed Goat Cheese Salad, Granny Smith & Baby Spinach Salad, Cobb Salad with Chicken Paillard, Classic Caesar and Asian Noodle Salad. Their appetizers range from $3.95 to $16.00.
Their wraps come with soup, house salad or fries. They have three wraps: Curried Chicken, Chicken Club and Cajun Chicken. Wraps are priced from $11.95 to $12.25.
They offer three kinds of pizza: Margharita, Hunter and Pesto and Goat Cheese. Pizzas range from $13 to $15.
Sandwiches are served with soup, house salad or fries. Tofu and Avocado, T.L.T. (Tofu), B.L.T. and Avocado B.L.T. comprise their selection of sandwiches. Sandwiches cost between $9.75 and $14.
They also have a variety of pasta dishes, which are served with a grilled baguette slice. These dishes include Linguine Chicken Carbonara, Pad Thai, Basil Pesto Pasta and Linguine with Smoked Salmon. Their pasta dishes range from $13.25 to $15.25.
These dishes are served with house salad or fries. Entrees include a Western Omelette Wrap, The Express Plus (3 eggs, fries and toast), The Express (2 eggs, fries and toast), Perogies, Huevos Rancheros, Frittata, Eggs Southwestern, Eggs Florentine and Eggs Benedict. Brunch and lunch entrees begin at $8.75 and go up to $13.25.
Windmills has a small selection of burgers including their Original Veggie Burger, Classic Hamburger, Aged Cheddar and Maple Bacon Burger and a Brunch Burger. Burgers cost between $11.95 and $13.95.
There are a few lunch plates available. They include Cream Cheese Plate, Hummus Plate and Smoked Salmon & Cream Cheese Plate. The lunch plates range from $11.75 to $13.75.
They have a small selection of dessert items including Baked Chocolate Mousse Cake, Lemon Blueberry Meringue Napoleon, Crème Brulée, Scooby Snack and Chef’s Selection of Imported and Local Cheeses. Their desserts start at $5 and go up to $8.
The Classic Burger
For my lunch visit to Windmills, I ordered the Classic Burger with the house salad. The house salad had carrots and what appears to be green tango and red oak leaf lettuce. The quality of the house salad didn't seem very high. There was some wilted lettuce. It just didn't seem as fresh as it could be.
The burger had tomatoes, onions and pickles. It was heavenly. It had a slight charcoal flavour, and the beef was really good. The burger saved the whole dish for me.
The Crème Brulée
For dessert, I got the crème brulée. I believe this was my first time having this popular dessert. I had to crack the hardened sugar layer to get to the custard underneath. It had just the right amount of sweetness and vanilla flavour. To me, it was wonderful.
Our waitress was friendly but she appeared to be inexperienced. When asked about the soup of the day, she didn't seem to know and had to go and check. We had to ask for our utensils, butter and later on, napkins. She also didn't refill my water. Overall, the service was inefficient because she did not anticipate what we needed. We kept asking her for things, which was slightly irritating. I assume she was new.
The state of the washroom is an indication of a restaurant's overall sanitary standards and upkeep. Windmills' washrooms are in the basement. The walls are painted concrete and aren't the nicest looking. Except for a few dirty spots, everything else seemed clean. It was also well-stocked. Overall, the washroom appeared okay to me.
Know Before You Go
The local Public Health Unit has a website called Know Before You Go. This is where the results of health inspections are posted. I wanted to see how Windmills did on their last inspection. I found out that they had an inspection on Oct 31, 2017. They were compliant on five of the categories. The sixth one, Food Handler Hygiene (including handwashing), was not observed. This shows for the most part that Windmills passed their health inspection, which is a relief to know.
My Final Verdict
Windmills has been around for a while in Kingston. It has enjoyed success for most of those years. Their restaurant atmosphere is pleasant and relaxing. It is filled with beautiful artwork and great music. They have an eclectic menu, offering Mediterranean favourites, Asian specials, and more. For this visit, I ordered the classic burger with the house salad. The salad wasn't the greatest; however, the burger saved it from being a totally bad dish. Their crème brulée was light, sweet and had great vanilla flavour. The service wasn't the best but was likely from a newer staff member. Their washroom doesn't match their nicer interior upstairs but was, for the most part, clean and well-stocked. They also passed their health inspection. I enjoyed my meal at Windmills and would return again.
Simon Lam (author) on February 26, 2018:
Thank you for reading my articles and for your kind words. I try to capture a complete picture of the restaurants I review so that the reader can make an informed decision as to whether or not to go to a certain establishment. Thanks again for your comment!
gs on February 26, 2018:
I have now read a few articles by Simon Lam. The articles that I read were usually about the fare they served in restaurants, menu prices, waiter/waitress service and cleanliness of their washrooms. I found the articles very informative and insightful. I would definitely follow Simon's advice on where and where not to eat in Kingston ON.