Bill’s is a new addition to the abundance of restaurants in Greenwich and fits nicely into the mid-range market. It is part of a chain but sounds like a local cafe, and in reality it began as a greengrocers in Lewes, East Sussex just a few years ago, but after a flood a cafe was added to the shop, writes Michael Holland.
Me and Mum rocked up to find Bill’s has claimed a prime spot on the one-way system, with big windows offering views over St Alfege’s, the church designed by Hawksmoor, from both its floors. We sat downstairs where we could people-watch as well as admire the decor that jumps from industrial to palm court frippery in the twinkling of a waitress’s eye. And that waitress was Vivienne, a smiling charmer who fulfilled our every wish and desire.
We began with a selection of starters and drinks. I had a bottle of Bill’s IPA, a tasty brew made by Adnams, while Mum went for a Chilean Merlot. Soon after an array of dishes was laid before us: Gordal Olives; Calamari with a garlic & lemon aioli dip; Pork Dumplings with smoked chilli and soy dip. The olives were giant mouthfuls of sharp flavour, and the dumplings were matched with the perfect sauce. The squid was a little over-fried for my liking but the aioli was scrumptious and we polished them all off.
For my main course I chose the Kashmiri Lamb Shank that came with a really nice coconut rice and a creamy sauce. The meat fell away from the bone and melted in the mouth. Mum, strangely went for the Pan Fried Chicken with Truffle and Wild Mushrooms. I say strangely because she never orders chicken and never buys chicken breasts to cook at home. All of a sudden she’s telling me and Vivienne and anyone walking past willing to listen, that this is the best chicken she’s ever had and will now be buying it more often to cook indoors! Mum celebrated this born again experience with another merlot, and I joined her.
As the sun set and the night darkened outside, a lady was doing the rounds lighting the table candles. Suddenly the lights were turned down and we were plunged into almost total darkness, just a few flickering table lights offering very little in the way of illumination. I could not see what was on my plate and was left fumbling around with my cutlery in the dark. Perhaps it was supposed to be ‘mood lighting’, but if I was on a date I’d at least like to see who I was on a date with. Losing the sense of sight meant another one was heightened, so now I could smell the succulence of the lamb and curry sauce even more than before, but could now feel lots of food landing on the front of my shirt as I tried to eat with impaired vision.
For an early sitting Bill’s was quite full; evidence that it has made an impact in the short while it has been open in Greenwich. The menu is pretty standard for a chain restaurant but the service seems to take it up a notch, which is always good. Vivienne appeared asking if we wanted to see the dessert menu, which could have been a cue for a joke about the lighting, but I resisted. Besides, Mum has recently had her cataracts done so can see for miles and miles and definitely as far as the Apple Crumble with Vanilla Ice Cream and Custard, which went down a treat to round off the meal.
Bill’s has risen fast in a short time by giving people what they want. It’s a recipe for success.
Bill’s, 13 Nelson Road, Greenwich, SE10 9J
Mon – Sat 8am – 11pm. Sun 8am – 10.30pm
0208 858 8047 – www.bills-website.co.uk
Gordal Olives 2.95
Pork Dumplings 5.95
Lamb Shank 15.95
Apple Crumble 5.95
Merlot x 3 @ 5.75 17.25