“Bill’s – open for breakfast, lunch and dinner” declares the chalkboard that stands on the corner where Green Street meets Sidney Street. Such advertisement is surprisingly understated – but nevertheless superfluous. It’s rare to find this splendid place devoid of a queue at lunchtime.
Though it’s a chain, Bill’s has an individual, home-baked feel to it that’s instantly charming. Recipes are scrawled on the chalkboards that line the walls; ceiling-high shelves are crammed with jams, cookbooks, raffia and lemonade – all of which can be purchased. You’re even invited to pick up a Bill’s signature sticker on the way out. The restaurant therefore feels more like a rustic bazaar than a successful chain.
Another quirk is the communal seating system, which ensures that a queue doesn’t necessarily entail a half-hour wait. The popularity of the place, however, can mean the meals are slow to arrive. But it’s worth the wait. The menu boasts an eclectic array of dishes, from fish-finger sandwiches, to pumpkin risotto. Vegetarians could have a justified moan, there being only three meat-free mains on offer, but all are enticing. The hummus and halloumi burger is particularly scrumptious; order sweet potato – rather than skinny – fries for a meal that is perfection itself. Funds allowing, it’s also worth complementing your main course with a cocktail and one of the incredible desserts – the cinnamon doughnuts are something special. But this may have to be a once-a-term occasion, unless your parents are visiting – and willing to cover the costs.
Whilst lunch and dinner here are undoubtedly a treat, what makes this eatery irresistible is its delectable take on the woefully overlooked meals of brunch and afternoon tea. Blueberry and buttermilk pancakes, perfectly-formed scones, home-made jams, the full English – there’s something to tickle every taste bud. Tucked away behind Sainsbury’s in this quiet part of town, Bill’s really is worth going out of your way for.