"suits as a great place for a quick, inexpensive and wholesome lunch"Review Rating: Reviewed by KimT
The Bill’s chain has an interesting history – apparently, it started in Sussex where a chap (presumably Bill) had a small holding growing fresh produce. He moved it to the High Street and a café was opened with a desire to make the place feel like home.
My first experience at Bill’s (the branch in Richmond) wasn’t great – there was a mix up over who was meant to be serving us so service was rather slow and my companion’s vegetarian dish was rather bland. So I thought I’d give it another go.
Covent Garden in the school holidays when jam packed with tourists isn’t a comfortable place. We’d been walking for most of the morning and we were tired, hot and hungry.
I persuaded my daughter to walk a little further towards Leicester Square where I knew that tucked away off the main drag there was a quieter square where we might be able to get a light lunch. Bill’s is located right next to a Jamie’s Italian.
The seats outside were sadly full but this did mean that there was plenty of space inside. A friendly waitress took us to a table in the rear. Comfortable no-nonsense wooden tables and chairs were positioned where there was plenty to look at – the now quite common stocked shelves, the exposed ceiling pipework with both large metal modern lights and much lower decorative chandeliers as well as swatches of brightly coloured cotton. It’s informal and relaxed. And it does feel a bit like home – it you live in a hotch-potch kind of country kitchen.
I was delighted with my Citron Soda (£3.25) – authentic grown-up French lemonade with a bit of a kick. My daughter was happy with the water. She choose the beer battered fish and chips (£11.95) which arrived on a platter on some paper with a small pot of mushy peas, tartar sauce and two large pickled onions. The fish was surprisingly well cooked and tasty.
My sage, lemon and broad bean risotto (£9.95) with a sprinkling of feta crumbs and toasted pine nuts was served with some rocket leaves. The creamy rice was well flavoured and it was a substantial portion – I couldn’t eat it all.
There was an assortment of other diners – another mum and teen daughter (not from the UK) sat near us and there were families with small and grown kids. There were a couple of tourists too. And whilst it felt quite a young place all age groups were represented. But there was plenty of space considering it was the lunch time peak. The waitress was friendly and smiley but not so laid back that it affected the service.
It certainly suits as a great place for a quick, inexpensive and wholesome lunch. It offers firm favourites such as burgers (from £9.95 including halloumi and chicken/chorizo versions), steaks (from £14.50) and ribs (£13.95) as well as dishes for more discerning palates such as duck pie (£11.95) and grilled sea bream on tagliatelle (£9.95).
But I’m certainly tempted to try the place for breakfast (the breakfast menu is extensive – including a full English, pancakes, scrambled eggs, granolas as well as eggs Benedict, Florentine and Royale) and is available until 1pm at the weekends – making it an ideal brunch destination.
KimT reviewed Bills on Tue 05 Aug 2014