It’s a bit of a stretch to remember with complete clarity, but I recall that when I was young the days of the week really only had two classifications: school, and the weekend. Then, in what seems like an all-too-sudden jolt, we scurry off to work for five days out of seven and start worrying about paying things, saving for things, and buying things. In order to make this process a little more bearable, I’ve noticed that we naturally endow each day of the week with its own personality. Monday is a sneaky teacher’s pet of a day; existing solely to eliminate any traces of fun left over from the weekend. Tuesday is solid and stoic, and if it walked it would be at the same speed of a bobby on the beat. Wednesday is a bit of a nothing, like Coldplay or ham sandwiches, which brings us to Thursday. I always see Thursday as the friend that lines up the shots even though you’ve declared that you’re ‘Just staying for one quick drink….’.
It was with this in mind that I was very glad I was visiting Bill’s, located on North Road, on a Thursday. Clearly more than a few others had the same idea as it was absolutely heaving as we walked in. The restaurant is huge, and has a very cool urban-warehouse vibe going on. Dried chillies and peppers hang from the ceilings, black chalk-boards adorned with beautiful handwriting hang on the walls, and big chunky wooden tables fill the space. Trying to pick something from the large menu was difficult as there were at least five starters and mains I really fancied, and although I have been known to double up on courses-sorry arteries- I decided upon Bill’s Chorizo Scotch Egg (£5.50), while my dining companion sought out the Crispy Duck Salad (£4.95). The scotch egg was a revelation; beautifully smoky chorizo being a perfect accompaniment for oozing yolk. These flavours were further enhanced by a wonderfully punchy Dijon mayonnaise. My companion’s duck salad was incredibly light and fresh tasting, and was presented in a rustic fashion which suited the ethos of the homely restaurant.
We were attended to by the lovely Craig and Kosha, who seemed to instinctively know what we wanted, or when we were finished, so that even the most uptight diner would struggle not to relax during the un-hurried and friendly service. For my main course I opted for one of my favourites, Fish Pie (£12.95), which when done with aplomb, epitomises good comfort food. My dining companion went for the 10oz Rib Eye Steak (£15.95) served with fries, watercress and garlic butter. The fish pie was crammed with well-cooked prawns and haddock, and had the lovely addition of buttered leaks, which all sat under some truly lovely mash. If I was to be critical I would say that it lacked seasoning, but I am not averse to adding this myself at the table. My dining companion’s steak was cooked to perfection, and was picture-postcard tantalising. Fries usually make me pretty angry (think Michael Douglas in ‘Falling Down’), as I like big ‘proper’ chips with meals, however these were very nice indeed, and made me re-think my rather stubborn potato ideologies.
Dessert was suitably diabetes-inducing, which let’s be honest, means it’s going to be good. I had the Chocolate Brownie with Milk Ice Cream (£5.95), my companion chose the Pecan Pie (£5.95) and we washed it all down with a rather fantastic drink called a Hedgerow Fizz (£4.50), which tastes like fizzy elderflower loveliness, but gets big bonus points because it’s alcoholic. The brownie was very cocoa-ey, which all good brownies should be in my opinion, and the ice cream tasted like a frozen glass of milk, which was both clever and tasty. By the end of the meal I was happy just lolling around in my chair, patting my tummy contentedly, and glancing at the jams, chutneys and wonderful things that Bill’s sell. I would like to meet this elusive ‘Bill’, and give him a big ol’ pat on the back, because he is most certainly onto a winner.
By Lucy Hallett
The Depot, 100 North Road,
Tel: 01273 692894