Review: Bill’s, Richmond
Fiona Adams samples the menu at the newly opened Bill’s in Richmond – a buzzy, thriving diner with variety and style
The newly opened Bill’s sits at the top of Richmond Bridge, surveying the town and river from its windows. From the outside it looks a little unprepossessing, but once you step through the doors you are assaulted by aromas, chatter and the occasional bunch of dried chillies hanging from the ceiling.
I went for a Friday lunch with a friend and was amazed to find how buzzy it was. Almost every table was filled – couples, mums and babies, families – all happily guzzling away on Bill’s eclectic menu.
We were seated overlooking the riverside and while we caught up on news and perused the menu, our waiter suggested a little nibble of cod’s cheeks to keep us going. Not realizing cods even had cheeks, I was intrigued and pleasantly surprised when a small tin bucket of plump, battered morsels of fish arrived. Apparently the cheeks were once a highly prized part of the fish, but like many cuts of meat had fallen out of modern favour.
For our starters, we ordered crab spring rolls and Bill’s prawn and avocado cocktail (my friend was feeling nostalgic). The spring rolls were beautifully light and complemented by the accompanying mango, chilli and coriander salsa perfectly. The cocktail looked rather stupendous, with large ciabatta crisps sticking majestically out of the glass. It tasted pretty good, too.
On to our mains, and I went for the halloumi and hummus ‘burger’ (there are plenty of vegetarian options on the menu), served with rocket, roasted peppers and skinny fries. I could have done with a more substantial green garnish or side salad to balance the saltiness of the cheese, but the peppers were luscious.
The friend’s choice of grilled sea bream was a delicate dish given substance with a pressed tagliatelle cake and strewn with fennel and spring onion and accompanied by a refreshing basil, mint and coriander salsa verde.
By this point, I was ready to pop, but felt bound by professional duty (reader, I’m sure you understand) to try the Eton Mess. Needless to say, my friend didn’t get much of a look-in.
This most simple of desserts can often be a good test of restaurant menus – the balance of fruit, cream and meringue must be just right. The meringue must be slightly chewy, slightly crunchy in relation to the cream, which must be light not overwhipped. The fruit must also be just ripe, not squishy. The verdict of Bill’s (enhanced with mascarpone and strawberry coulis)? Sheer perfection – I would walk over the bridge for that alone.
We came away very satisfied. The food and service were friendly, not overbearing, and despite the high numbers of customers we never felt chivvied along. In fact, my friend is all set to take his entire family; he felt there really was something for everyone.