I’ve heard good things about Bill’s, being one of the better chains, so Paulo and I had dinner at their restaurant in Cambridge. Its location on pretty Green Street has a very welcoming exterior.
The interior is cosy with a rustic feel but there’s a definite emphasis on the visual. The décor is a juxtaposition of distressed wood and sparkly chandeliers, with an abundance of Bill’s products lining the shelves and blackboards scrawled with recipes and products. It was sensory overload and I couldn’t help feeling that the barrage of information was a not-so-subtle hint to buy, buy, buy. I get it, Bill’s… but I don’t need the constant reminders to buy into the brand. Service and good food will do that for me and I have to say that Bill’s delivered on both counts during our visit.
When I walked past the stairs towards the back, I realised that the restaurant is much bigger than I expected with lots of room for more tables. There’s even a little corner with comfy sofas. There are a few long tables so it’s an ideal place for big groups.
Even though the décor is nice, the restaurant feels more like a shop than a place to unwind over a leisurely dinner. Perhaps this ambience is more suitable for breakfast or lunch. Nevertheless, the friendly and pleasant service from our waitress went a long way in making us feel relaxed.
Whilst we perused the menu we enjoyed a glass of Prosecco, served with a strawberry for visual appeal. A good start.
It took us a while to decide as the dinner menu had a lot of options, including a reasonably priced set menu available from noon to 7pm Monday to Friday. We chose from the main menu and decided to share a mezze platter featuring a selection of starters and sauces, namely spiced white corn tortillas, Dakkochi chicken skewers, calamari, crab cakes, olives, Pico de Gallo salsa, garlic & lemon mayo and tartare sauce. The mezze were served in a lovely blue and white platter to enhance the presentation of all the brown and beige food.
I didn’t like the spiced white corn tortillas at all but Paulo loved them. The Korean barbecue glaze on the Dakkochi chicken skewers was described as spicy but it really wasn’t, at least not to our palates. Still, the chicken was tasty and the spring onion and lime flavours complemented the glaze. The calamari and crab cakes were perfectly fine. The three sauces (Pico de Gallo, garlic & lemon mayo and tartare) were a little bland. We would have preferred more vibrant flavours to add some zing to the starters but this didn’t detract from our overall enjoyment.
For my main course, I chose the lamb burger with whipped lemon feta, sweet chilli sauce, roasted red peppers, rocket, cucumber and red onion in a sesame bun, accompanied by tzatziki and fries.
The patty looked a little charred on the outside and I was afraid it would be dry but it wasn’t at all. I loved the lamb burger’s Mediterranean flavours and would happily order it again. The fries were spot on too.
Paulo ordered steak, eggs and chips. The chargrilled minute steak, brushed with garlic butter, was perfectly cooked and he enjoyed it tremendously. Such a simple dish but easy to get wrong if the kitchen isn’t organised. It was served with chips, two fried eggs and the same Pico de Gallo salsa as our starter. Its flavours still weren’t bold enough but the salsa went well with the steak. The pea shoots were unnecessary, most likely added to the dish for presentation purposes. Paulo didn’t eat them.
Our desserts were excellent. They are big portions and could easily be shared. Paulo had the chocolate brownie with warm chocolate sauce, vanilla ice cream and a chocolate flake. A rich and very delicious treat.
I ordered the mini cinnamon doughnuts and they were heavenly. I lost count of how many were served as they were so warm and soft, I just kept popping them into my mouth. I did share some with Paulo though! The accompanying strawberries lent some freshness to the dessert and the both the chocolate and salted caramel dipping sauces provided extra richness.
Overall we enjoyed our dinner, despite some of the flavours not being bold enough. They are most likely adapted to the average British palate which is exactly what Bill’s is meant to do. As a chain with a menu appealing to a wide customer base, Bill’s ticks all of the boxes.
I was invited by Bill’s. Although the food and drinks were complimentary, all views are my own. I did not receive compensation for my review.
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