BILL'S REINVENTED: CAN IT KEEP ITS ORIGINAL CHARM?
Bill’s started life as a small greengrocer located in a modest shed off the high street in Lewes which, after being flooded out in 2000, owner Bill Collison reopened as Bill’s Food & Produce Store. With the addition of a small café, the Store’s zeitgeisty, easy-going, urban-rustic vibe – unwashed produce tumbling photogenically out of trugs, shelves full of larder-cluttering foreign comestibles in tins with nice graphics – attracted the attention of trend-sniffing foodies. My family and I included.
If you didn't already know, I'm originally from Brighton & Hove and so we frequented the original Lewes branch, as well as the Brighton one, fairly regularly because it just worked for everyone. At the time I was a vegetarian, and my brother was notoriously picky about food, but no matter what, we all always found something tasty on the menu to keep us coming back to try more.
And now here we are, over a decade later, and I got the absolute pleasure of visiting the newly renovated Bill's Westfield Shepherd's Bush. Not only has the decor been spruced up, the menu has also had some very exciting tweaks. As you can assume, I'd already tried the majority of things on Bill's previous menu and so the new additions came as a very pleasant surprise!
Before we get onto the food, I want to talk about the decor. It's truly stunning. Gone is the rustic vibe, replaced with jewel-coloured furniture, fancy chandeliers, eccentric artwork and lots and lots of foliage. In short, it's an Instagrammer's dream.
Now for the good stuff... the menu, mmm. Bill's have clearly thought about their demographic and noticed that there was clearly a gap in their previous menu in regards to 'sharing' food - y'know, the bits you want to nibble on whilst you sip on a cocktail - and so they have expanded, not only on their small plates, keeping classics such as the calamari and chicken skewers, but introducing dishes such as the Pork Dumplings and the Beetroot and goats cheese arancini. In terms of the mains, there are welcome additions such as the Oak smoked Asian spiced ribs and the Kashmiri lamb shank - which I must say, after spotting it on our neighbour's table, looked absolutely delicious!
Like I said, the new dishes really took my intrigue but I'm a sucker for tradition and was as you'll notice, was really craving a bit of seaside wonder. I started off with the calamari - an all-time favourite of mine - which was delicious. Spiced and seasoned well, perfectly crisp (because nobody wants a soggy calamari) and the squid itself was soft. The winning part would definitely be the accompanied aioli dip which I genuinely could just smother on a bit of bread, it's that good.
Sticking to the fishy theme, I ordered the Bill's fish and chips as my main course. The portion size was massive, so I'd definitely keep that in mind for future but the food itself was really, really good. Similarly to the calamari, the batter was crunchy and the cod was flaky perfection. The accompanied chips were traditionally chunky and crisp.
I have a massive sweet tooth and so having desert was just an automatic given. I must say, the Bill's desert selection is genuinely drool-worthy and it was actually a struggle for me to decide what to have. My friend ordered the lemon meringue roulade and I took the waitress' recommendation for the warm triple chocolate brownie and both were exceptional. I've said time and time again that I would go to Bill's just to have their deserts! The roulade was the right contrast of sweet and tangy, and the brownie was indulgent without that usual accompanied sicky feeling. Bliss, true bliss.
All in all, I was really really impressed with not only the new style of the restaurant but also the menu changes. I would definitely recommend you going along for a visit!