“ Address: St Martin's Courtyard / off Long Acre / London WC2E 9AB „
* Prices may differ from that shown
Please note I visited the Wimbeldon branch - DY asked for the review to be posted here.
Heading to the cinema in Wimbledon one day, we decided to eat at a restaurant nearby. After buying our tickets, we came out with some time to spare to eat lunch, and my local friend spotted this place, noting that it was new. We decided to give it a try. I had not heard of Bill's before but I note that it is a small chain with restaurants located in London and a few other cities such as Brighton, Exeter and Cambridge. The restaurant is Hartfield Road, just behind the Odeon cinema on Wimbledon Broadway. It is a double fronted establishment with plenty of seating outside if the weather is on your side. As it was a Bank Holiday, the weather was obviously a bit iffy so we decided to eat inside. We were greeted by a cheerful chap almost straight away and he said we would have a few minutes wait, which was fine. He seated two people who had just arrived before us and indicated us to a couple of leather armchairs and handed us some menus.
The menu is a large card divided into sections, with a boxed section pre-printed with Specials. This always baffles me a little bit as there is nothing special about them if they are already on the pre-printed menu. Décor wise the restaurant was very rustic, with wooden tables, chairs and shelves, plus (what I think are fake) metal pipes across the ceiling. Your cutlery and paper napkins are in a little pot on your table with the world's tiniest salt and pepper cellars. After being seated the cheerful chap told us what was unavailable which included two of the specials (including the macaroni cheese by friend had been coveting) and a few other dishes such as the fish pie (my friend's second choice). We discovered from another cheerful chap a bit later that it had been a very busy day for them. Also, that they had only opened in June. That is one thing I can say about the service, everyone is very cheerful and no one was grumpy, or disinterested and we were asked a number of times if everything was OK (maybe a few too many times).
We decided to forgo starters as we didn't want to risk being late back to the cinema, but they had an interesting selection including tomato and basil bruschetta or crab spring rolls alongside retro classics such as soup or avocado and prawn cocktail. Starters tended to be about the £5-6.00 mark except the vegetarian sharing platter which was £9.95. Having been disappointed with his initial main choices being unavailable my friend went for the burger with cheese (£11.15) which he asked for well done. I chose the halloumi and hummus burger (£8.95). Both were served on a printed greaseproof paper on a wooden board and all nicely presented with the skinny fires being served in a little bucket. We were offered additional sauces if we so required. My halloumi was cut into strips and balanced within a seeded bun on a bed of dressed lettuce with a sweet pepper perched on top. Logistically this wasn't the sort of burger to eat with your hands as the contents would just slide out, so I removed the 'lid' and ate it with my knife and fork. The hummus was spread inside the bun, and wasn't particularly strong or overpowering. Really it was a halloumi burger; the hummus wasn't really a main ingredient. I loved the skinny fries, which were beautifully even and golden. My friend seemed a bit put out as he thought the portion was a bit small. He did love his burger - the meat was cooked perfectly and he said he could tell that good quality meat was used. Other main dishes included seabream, pea and mint risotto, peri peri chicken and Thai prawn curry alongside burgers and homemade fishfinger sandwiches priced between £9-12, with a few pricier exceptions such as steaks.
They had a good range of drinks - an extensive wine list (starting at £14.95 for a bottle of the house wine), a few simple cocktails such as Buck's Fizz, Bloody Mary and Pimms (from £3.95), spirits and bottled beers. They had an interesting selection of soft drinks, such as fruit juice mixes, chocolate brownie milkshakes, Fentiman's ginger beer, as well as the usual suspects. My friend had the chocolate brownie milkshake at £3.65 (large) which was a generous chocolate milkshake topped with cream and a half of a Flake. Apparently the brownie bits were at the bottom but I wasn't allowed to try them. The milkshake itself was very tasty however and he was very happy. We didn't have time for dessert but options included Eton mess, plum & blackberry crumble and raspberry & vanilla crème brulee. Prices were between £3.95 and £5.95.
All in all we were in and out within the hour, having had just one course at a busy time. Our bill, including 12.5% service, was just under £30. I didn't visit the toilets at this time, so cannot comment on them. The restaurant is all on one level so should not offer too many problems for those with access difficulties, but it might be a tight squeeze through some of the tables. We would definitely consider eating here again, but preferably if my friend's first two choices are available.
Bill's is a chain of restaurants across the UK and this review focuses on the branch in Covent Garden, London. Bill's specialise in classic British staples made from home grown produce. It sits somewhere between a restaurant and a cafe in so far as it's not gourmet but it's filling, wholesome and of excellent quality.
Rough and ready charm is the order of the day for Bill's. Old wooden tables with school chairs accompany battered leather armchairs. Enamel lamp shades hang from the ceiling and old tin cans adorn the tables as cutlery holders. The walls are filled with products on sale in the shop giving it the feel of a farm house store.
Menu staples include the fish finger sandwich that does what it says on the tin. The fish fingers are home made though and crispy on the outside but succulent on the inside and not too dry. They also do a mean cottage pie that is hearty, filling, very cheesy and very tasty indeed. A personal favourite is the chorizo sandwich with chips. It's simple but because the ingredients they use are excellent it's wonderful. It comes with a salad garnish and chips that were crunchy on the outside, fluffy on the inside.
Drinks range from standard soft drinks to excellently refreshing homemade juices. Beers and wines are also on offer but I've only been for a working lunch so didn't indulge.
Prices can range from around £5 for smaller dishes and up to above £10 for other meals but on the whole I think it's excellent value.
Service is usually efficient and very friendly. Tables are cleared quickly even when busy so the restaurant always feels clean. Often, during the summer months lunch times can get very busy and queuing is often necessary. They do have a handful of tables outside that again, if the sun is shining are at a premium.
Bill's will not set your culinary palette alight but it will fill you with some wholesome goodness and you can't say fairer than that!