If you’re like me, you might make the mistake of thinking that an outlet of Bill’s, occupying a prime position in your town or city centre, is the latest ‘same-ish’ offering from a faceless multinational hospitality conglomerate. You’d be wrong.
While it’s true that the brand owns more than 100 restaurants across the UK, the story behind the brainchild of former horticulturalist and greengrocer Bill Collison is markedly different to that of most of his high street competitors. For a start, the business has grown organically from a single successful outlet in Lewes, East Sussex, back in 2000. Flooding the market and making a quick buck doesn’t seem to have been Collison’s aim.
The décor, collectables and artwork which reinforce the restaurant’s individuality are all sourced by Collison; the interior design, in addition to the restaurant business, touch on images of the current season’s produce on napkins and handmade, upcycled mirrors, providing a unique atmosphere to enjoy some wonderful food.
And so, to the food. The breakfast menu is an embarrassment of riches. From sourdough toast (at £3.50), to eggs royale (£9.95), there is something for everyone. The lunchtime menu includes the must-try buttermilk chicken burger, which at £12.95 is sure to send you back to the office or onto the second leg of your shopping expedition with a full tum and a big smile on your face. Other delicious options include the Kashmiri lamb shank (highly recommended at £15.95) and a King Prawn Risotto. Alternatively, the Bill’s’ beer battered cod is as much a delight to behold on the plate, as it is to taste.
Bill’s dinner menu is served from 5pm and diners can opt for the popular set menu with two courses for £17.50, or three courses for £20.50, with starters including ham hock, pickled carrot and mustard terrine and chicken and sesame dumplings. At the other end of dinner proceedings, pudding options include warm mini-cinnamon doughnuts. These delightful miniatures are accompanied by chocolate and salted caramel dipping sauces. Ice-cream adventurists might opt for the exotic coconut-ice. With such an array of mouth-watering choices, it’s pretty much impossible to limit yourself to only two courses. Aside from a daily dinner special, the set menu diner can also enjoy a nourishing shepherd’s pie or pan-fried sea bass.