You may not have heard of Bill’s expanding chain of produce stores and cafés just yet, but we’re predicting it won’t be long until these trendy eateries are popping up all over the country. Back in 2001 Bill Collison began his business by transforming his then humble greengrocers into a modest café. Using his knowledge of how to grow and source seasonal foods and his general good taste in food, word spread fast and his Lewes based café became an overnight success. A decade later and Bill’s has hit six different locations including Brighton, Cambridge, Reading and two London stores.
Making our way to Bill’s Covent Garden location we expected to find a modest farm shop, conspicuously plonked amongst the tourists and super chains of the busy area. In fact, we were surprised to find a very trendy, stylish brasserie come deli, bustling with families, youngsters, suits and mid-week dates all in one place. The set up is casual with long dining tables for large groups and smaller seating areas around the room. An open kitchen creates a wonderful homely atmosphere but it’s the floor to ceiling rows upon rows of colourful products (all of which you can purchase) from oils to jams, as well as hanging bunches of dried chillies which really bring the restaurant to life.
The food here is simple, seasonal and honest and there is certainly something on the menu for everyone. To start we went for the Beetroot Bruschetta and the Crispy Prawn Cakes – both of which were full of flavour and fresh. Main’s are much heartier and will certainly win over hungry teenagers – we recommend Bill’s Famous Burger if you’re starving, or the Seafood Chowder if you’re looking for something a little lighter. With most mains hitting the £8-10 mark, the menu really is great value for money. Much of the menu is child friendly to begin with but there is a separate children’s menu that includes firm favourites like Homemade Fish Fingers should there be any visiting fusspots. Puddings are varied here, with everything from a retro ice cream sundae to a more sophisticated Pannacotta making an appearance – we sampled both and both were delicious.
If you’re not satisfied with just your meal at Bill’s you can take home a bag of goodies too – many of which are created by the man himself. Tasty marmalade, summery elderflower cordial or something stronger, Bill’s Beer, can all be purchased and packaged up beautifully. Hampers are also available from £35 and make great gift ideas for any foodie friends or family.
Whether you’re popping in for one of the award-winning breakfasts or treating the children to a summer sundae, Bill’s really does cater for everyone, which is certainly hard to find in central London.
Bill’s Café, Restaurant & Store has six locations – Covent Garden, Angel Islington, Reading, Brighton, Cambridge and Lewes. For more information or to shop online visit, www.bills-website.co.uk