I am not the chain restaurant's biggest fan. There is a time and place for them in my life but Friday night is not usually one of those times. However, when Bill's asked me to pay them a visit I accepted. Why? For the simple reason that I had never heard of them before and I was intrigued. A quick scout of their website tells me they have quite a few joints dotted around the country, I've clearly been walking around with my eyes closed, that or I don't visit that there London quite as much as I should.
Bill's started life as a green grocers, which met its fate with mother nature when it was flooded. They opened a new shop but bolted on a cafe, it then became just a little bit popular and now they have 70 plus restaurants. Their USP is simple, honest great food and making sure everyone is treated like an individual.
|Massive lampshade above our table|
D and I rocked up at 6pm on a Friday night, that middle time between post work dinner and Friday night treats. I was surprised to see it half full, especially with it being the new kid on the block.
We were seated in a booth and handed menus. Between catching up and deciding on drinks we were having some trouble, luckily a waitress was on hand to give us some top tips. In the end we settled on an Amaretto Sour and a Raspberry and Rosehip Collins.
|Cocktails and Chandeliers £4.95-£6.50|
Plus some olives to tie us over whilst we chewed over the menu. The olives were large and of the Spanish variety, juicy and fresh.
|Gordal Olives £2.95|
Starters were two orders of sweetcorn and coriander pancakes.
|Sweetcorn and Coriander Pancakes £5.25|
Topped with sundried tomato pesto, avocado, feta, cherry tomatoes, watercress, oat and nut crumble and drizzled with balsamic. It was a fairly light starter, the mix of flavours and combining all the different elements make it a joy to eat.
When it came to mains I knew exactly what I wanted, I had briefly looked at the menu before arriving and saw 'Duck Pie'. I was intrigued.
|Duck Pie £12.95|
The Duck Pie arrived and appeared to be somewhat similar to a Shepherd's or Cottage pie, it wasn't what I was expecting. Firstly that is not a potato top, but instead a creamy buttery mashed savoy cabbage. I honestly thought it was potato at first bite. Underneath the fake potato crust there was pearl barley, vegetables and pulled ducks leg. My last experience with pearl barley a few years ago wasn't a good one and I've avoided it ever since. This pie has turned my fears around as I tucked in and really enjoyed the slow cooked stewed texture the pie had to offer. It was a perfect autumnal dinner.
Served alongside the pie is picked red cabbage, I asked the waitress if I needed any other side with the pie and she suggested the tender stem broccoli.. In the end D ate most of my broccoli as the pie itself was so filling.
D was having trouble deciding on mains, his brain was geared towards trying something different or challenging as it was review night, but his heart was thinking of steak as it was Friday night. The waitress once again was on hand to help and she gave a few alternatives that D might enjoy but in the end convinced him that if steak was where his heart was then steak was what he should have.
|10oz Ribeye £16.95|
D ordered the ribeye medium rare with garlic butter. When D cut open his steak he exclaimed "well you can't get more medium rare than that" to which I exhaled loudly in relief as far too often lately we've had steak cooked under or over par.
|Crap photo but you get the idea|
Part way through the meal we ordered some more cocktails, myself a Hedgerow Fizz (prosecco, elderflower cordial and a frozen blackberry) and another Amaretto Sour this time for D, I think he might have a new favourite cocktail.
|Hedgerow Fizz £4.50|
Feeling slightly defeated by my main dish but seeing the pleading look in D's eyes I agreed to share dessert. D was immediately on the Eton Mess but I managed to convince him not to ordered yet another Eton Mess and we settled instead on the chocolate brownie.
|Warm Chocolate Brownie £5.95|
Served warm with ice cream and a flake it was smaller than expected, but this was probably a good thing after all that I had eaten. The chocolate was rich and thick, the ice cream cold (not too melty on arrival) and creamy (not bland) exactly what you'd want and expect from ice cream; the flake was just an added bonus.
I left Bill's feeling full and satisfied, the basic essentials of a good meal. The staff were an absolute pleasure. Too often with chain restaurants the staff are disengaged and ill-passionate about the food, this wasn't the case at Bill's, it was refreshing.
Bill's are not just an evening destination, they also serve breakfast, brunch and lunch. Having recently read another review of their brunch, I'm keen to try out some blueberry pancakes and will be making a beeline for them the next time the opportunity presents itself.
1 Albion Place