The airy space at the end of Chapel Street — formerly home to a health food cafe — has crossed over to the dark side. Its once light and bright fit-out has been replaced by a dark and ambient decor combining recycled timbers, giant drapes of fabric hanging from the ceilings and a melange of antiques mounted on the walls. What was once Uncommon is now a restaurant and cocktail bar called Lover.
The food at this Windsor restaurant bar doesn't have a specific cultural identity, but rather draws influences from around the globe. But it does have an overarching theme: nostalgia. The restaurant best evokes this through its food. Old classics you may have eaten as a child come out to play in modern forms. And this is done successfully by head chef Paul Turner — who hails from Cutler & Co.
Let's start with the hot hot pork crackers ($8), a rendition of prawn crackers that use pork flavours instead of traditional prawn. They are paired with a herb cream and saltbush and make for a perfectly satisfying starter — meeting diners with a crackle initially then softly disintegrating seconds after. The prawn toast ($7) may take you back to the days of family yum cha, only at Lover it's paired with chorizo, echoing the Spanish pairing of seafood and sausage.
If you eat cured meat and you're only going to get one starter, let it be the pretzel ($8). It may sound ridiculous that we're recommending you order a pretzel at a restaurant, we know. But it's a freshly baked pretzel stuffed with wagyu, pickles, cheddar and mustard — so, it's is a must.
To break things up, there is also a series of salads and vegetable dishes on offer. Take it easy with a cos lettuce salad with fresh herbs and ranch dressing ($8) or live on the wilder side by ordering a grilled pumpkin dish topped with curried pepitas, burnt butter miso, and pear ($16).
One dish that is a touch lacklustre is the kingfish crudo ($18). Though artistically presented, its cucumber, yuzu and charred avocado counterparts are not enough to make for a memorable dish.
On the other end of the spectrum, there is the gnocchi ($26) — which is absurdly generous in flavour. Simply paired with three main ingredients, zucchini, basil and cheese, the pan-fried nubs of potato are a delight to delve into. If you head in on a Wednesday, you'll be able to sample a generous bowl of gnocchi (which changes weekly) and a glass of wine for a neat $25.
When it comes to drinks, cocktails are the word at Lover — all prettily picturesque and met with generous flavour. Visitors will find a blueberry and sage sour made with infused gin ($18), as well as a coconut and elderflower margarita ($18). Lover also sports a collection of white, red and sparkling wines from across the globe to match its diverse food offerings, too.