Sometimes you visit a restaurant that completely takes you by surprise and rockets to the top of your favourite list – Bill’s in Manchester is it. With a chain of restaurant across the UK I’m not sure how I’ve managed to miss it for so long but I’m so glad I’ve finally discovered the quirky delights of my new favourite eatery!
Bill’s tagline is “From Breakfast to Bedtime and Everything in Between” and it certainly seems as if they practice what they preach from the incredible feedback I’ve come across when I mentioned we were visiting – ‘Oh I love their afternoon tea’ ‘You MUST try their cocktails’ ‘They do a killer breakfast’ – I couldn’t wait to get inside this much loved restaurant and try it out for myself. Joe and I were in Manchester double dating with two lovely friend’s when Bill’s suggested we come in for dinner and cocktails on John Dalton Street so we booked a table for 7:30 on Saturday night. When we arrived there were people queuing out of the door trying to get a table and we were greeted by the friendly staff who crossed our names of the list. The interior of Bill’s oozes style and has such a laid back feel. With a killer playlist and people enjoying themselves in all directions it made for a fantastic atmosphere and the décor is right up our street with old chandeliers, studden armchairs, battered wood and exposed pipework all round.
Phil our waiter came right over and took some drinks orders for us whilst we were looking through the menu and we decided to give Bill’s own products a try with two glasses of the Bill’s Champagne (£6.50 a glass) and two bottles of Bill’s Beer (£3.85)! Regular readers will know we love a glass of fizz over at xameliax and I’m happy to report that Bill’s own is simply delicious, so delicious in fact we had to order two more! His beer was incredibly light, a cold pale ale and very drinkable – they even served it in frozen glasses which is always a nice little touch. We also ordered some Giant Green Gordal Olives (£2.95) to nibble on before our starters arrived which were yummy although I would have preferred them with a bit of ice to chill them down.
To start I went for the Chicken In A Jar (£5.85) a Chicken Liver Parfait with Bill’s Chutney and Toasted Sourdough. I often find with starters like this there’s never enough bread but Bill’s certainly don’t scrimp and the chutney was heaven – I really enjoyed it. Joe went for the Crispy Duck Salad (£5.50) for something a bit fresher and said it was a welcome change. Loaded Spring Onion, Apple Ribbons, Radish, Red Pepper, Coriander and Watercress and topped with a Soy and Lemon Dressing it was a healthy and tasty portion that still left room for the main course. Jules and Rich opted for two of the vegetarian starters – Celeriac, Apple and Speckled Lentil Soup (£4.95) and Crispy Crumbed Halloumi with Chili Mayo (£4.50). At first I thought nearly £5 for soup was a bit steep but that bowl was huge and came with endless warm crusty bread to boot. Jules thoroughly enjoyed it as did Rich who wanted to buy a vat of the chili mayo to take home with him!
By this point our tastbuds were tantalised and we were ready to take on our main courses! Phil convinced us to have a couple of cocktails after our starters ready for the main event and we happily obliged. Bill’s cocktail list is fab with a number on there right up my street making it hard to choose! In the end I went for a Bramble Mojito (£5.50) – White rum, Sugar, Blackberry Puree, Mint, Lime and Sparkling Wild Elderflower – and a Green Garden (£4.75) – Gin, Elderflower Cordial, Mint, Cucumber, Lime and Cloudy Apple Juice – for research purposes of course and they were both super refreshing going down far too easily!
For mains it was burgers all round for Joe and I both choosing the Bill’s Hamburger mine with extra Guacamole (£11.15) and Joe’s with Streaky Bacon (£11.45). These burgers were HUGE served with skin on fries and a fresh sesame seed bun – heaven on a board. My guacamole was home made and delicious and after looking at Joe’s bacon I wish I’d have stacked some of that on there too! Cooked medium the meat was succulent and full of flavour, and those fries? Wow. I very nearly managed to eat it all but I wanted to save room for the puddings I’d been hearing so much about so I had to leave a few bites…a decision I regret now as I’m typing this wishing I was eating it all over again! Jules being a veggie went for the Halloumi and Hummus Burger (£8.95)which actually looked really tasty (despite it missing a vital burger ingredient) and that sweet chilli sauce with the yoghurt smelt heavenly. Rich went full on MAN with a chunky Stirloin Steak and Peppercorn Sauce (£19.50) which was served with fries and skewered veggies – considering we didn’t hear a peep out of him for a good 5 minutes I’d say it was a winner!
For dessert although we were fit to burst we had our arms twisted into trying out the Pecan Pie with Malted Banana Ice Cream (£5.50), Warm Brownie with Vanilla Ice Cream (£5.95) and the Warm Mini Cinnamon Doughnuts with Fresh Strawberries and Chocolate Dipping Sauce (£5.50)! Despite being ‘too full to move’ my dinner guests were quick enough to dive into their puds before I got a chance to snap a photo! Verdicts on the pecan pie came in the form of lots of ‘mmmm’ing’ with mouthfuls full of ice cream and warm sticky pie and once again we didn’t hear a peep out of Rich as he tucked into his chocolate brownie not sharing with anyone! I went for the warm cinnamon doughnuts and wow were they good. Served with a dangerously pure dark chocolate dipping sauce and sweet, sweet strawberries I was happy in my own little doughnut world, covered in sugar and loving life.
After pudding Jules and I tried out Bill’s Peppermint Tea (£1.95) to help everything settle down which was so good I ended up taking a tin home with me! I’ve tried a lot of peppermint tea in the hope of discovering a blend that doesn’t taste like a piece of chewing gum dropping into hot water, and this my friends is it. Those who follow me on Instagram (@xameliax) will know I’ve been brewing a cup almost every evening – such a happy tea discovery! Our bill came to just over £165* (around £42 per head) which for three courses of delicious food each and quite a number of amazing drinks is alright by me. The variety and quality of the food and drinks is fab and the staff earned every penny of their tip too. I wouldn’t hesitate to go back to Bill’s and would go out of my way to eat there again – I’ve got my eye on their breakfast menu AND afternoon tea! Before we left our mischievous waiter managed to convince us to have ‘just one more drink’ – a perfectly balanced G&T for Jules and I and an Amaretto & Coke for the boys – we left feeling nicely warmed and full to the brim…Well.Done.Bill’s!
Bill’s sell their chutneys, beer, champers and other bits in the restaurants and online so you can take a bit of Bill’s home with you! They also have a range of hampers too which make perfect gifts so be sure to check those out in their online shop.
Take a look at their full menu, browse their shop or book a table online here.
Have you eaten at Bill’s before? What’s your favourite thing on the menu?
Tweet us @xameliax @billsrestaurant – we’d love to know! #billsmanchester
*Bill’s very kindly picked up our bill in exchange for this honest and open review. I’m happy to report that every one of us loved our experience and have vowed to book another meal in for the new year!