Sarah Hardy heads to Norwich to try Bill’s Restaurant and Bar
Where did you go?
My husband and I went to Bill’s Restaurant and Bar in Norwich for a mid week, early evening supper. It’s a chain which started off in Lewes in Sussex back in 2001 – when greengrocer Bill Collison decided to add a few tables to his shop. There are now more than 80 branches nationwide.
What’s the vibe?
The Norwich restaurant was nice and busy, with most tables occupied downstairs and a goodly amount upstairs, too – which is enormous! The decor is great – a sort of industrial look mixed with period pieces, many sourced from antique fairs. There are plenty of booths, high stools near the bar and comfy sofas to relax in. Add in huge mirrors, glitzy chandeliers and exposed ducts in the ceilings and you get the picture: eclectic!
Who’s in the team?
We were looked after by a young, friendly team who were well trained and speedy. They looked great in their trendy aprons!
What do we need to know about the menu?
Bill’s is all about all-day dining so you can start off with breakfast or brunch, say buttermilk pancakes, Eggs Benedict or a super healthy smoothie, and finish with supper – expect great salads, burgers, a fish finger sandwich, fish pie, chicken curry, steaks and more. Desserts are always worth a look.
What’s the price range?
Starters are from £5.95, mains from £9.95 and desserts from £4.50. A bacon bun for brekkie is £4.95.
We tried the homemade daily soup (carrot, lentil and cumin, at £5.95) which was thick and warming, and served with a chunk of toasted focaccia.The flavourings were delicate, with just enough heat for interest. I went for crispy calamari at £6.95 which came with a citrus/chilli mayo to dunk your seafood in. It was very moreish, with a crunchy exterior and tender interior. So far, so good.
Well, you are a little spoiled for choice – I really fancied my favourite: fish pie – but forced myself to try something new. The Supergreen Chicken Curry at £13.75 was just the ticket: chicken breast, sugar snap peas, courgette, spinach, chilli and coconut rice, finished with a crispy rice cracker. Again, it offered a delicate heat rather than anything too overpowering, and certainly helped my five-a-day quote of veggies. My husband went for a classic burger at £11.95, complete with fries, which was devoured.
Eton Mess is always a popular choice, and I noticed a more seasonal warm rhubarb crumble, too. But we went old school with a triple chocolate brownie to share between us at £6.50. Many people swear by Bill’s range of ice creams – next time!
What about dietary requirements?
The menu has many options for all dietary requirements – and all are clearly marked on the menu.
Tell us about the drinks?
There’s a decent cocktail list to work through, plus plenty of wines, spirits and beers – including an own label beer. The collection of non alcoholic drinks is much better than normal, with some unusual offerings including a watermelon and raspberry cooler. We enjoyed a bottle of Lierre rose from Italy at £23.95.
Anything else we need to know?
There are currently three special vegetarian dishes on the menu, created by leading plant-based writer, Madeleine Shaw. They include a creamy spinach dahl, a sweet potato salad and a brunch offering of a pea pancake.
This is a great city centre spot that offers a mixture of popular favourites like chicken skewers and crab cakes but also something a bit more ambitious such as sharing platters and a grilled miso salmon bowl.