I had heard bits and pieces about Bill’s, had walked past it many times on my journey into town and even wondered if it had any link to the infamous ‘Bills’ (Bill Granger’s) in Australia. Having seen the dimly lit restaurant busy most evenings, it was time to give it a go.
By the time I had strolled across the bridge it had made it to 11am. On entry I was greeted quite quickly as the till sits near the door. The first impressions were good, cool mismatched tables and chairs and groovy tunes playing at a respectable level for a Sunday.
I was seated a cosy corner, in amongst provisions for sale which felt like a giant pantry – French lemonade, big tins of tomatoes, chutney, jams and the like. It took a while for someone to take my order, however with time on my hands (it was Sunday after all) and the waiters navigating children, scooters, Dora the Explorer backpacks and everything else that comes with the pram pushing locals in this town, I was happy to wait.
The breakfast menu is good, simple but good. It has a few ‘irregular’ items but is overall what you would come to expect from a quality breakfast offering. Aside from the regulars including Bill’s Breakfast, aka the full English, I liked the look of the blueberry and buttermilk pancakes, Cumberland sausage sandwich and the Bill’s healthy breakfast board with fruit skewers. They also offer elderflower cordial and freshly squeezed juices.
I chose the Bill’s vegetarian breakfast (£7.95) with a side of bubble and squeak. It came with two thick slices of white toast, one spread with hummus and the other with guacamole, two poached eggs, grilled Roma tomatoes and a couple of mushrooms. It was garnished with fresh basil and a dollop of sweet chili sauce.
The eggs were perfectly poached; the bubble and squeak was smooth and salty. While the toast toppings were both delicious, sadly the bread was lacking substance and became soggy very quickly. Maybe sour dough or something with a little weight to hold everything nicely on top would have been a better solution. Everything else got the nod. Despite the dish being quite an odd mix (egg + guacamole?) it actually worked very well.
I took a small glance at my neighbours table once their food was delivered and got food envy over the blueberry and buttermilk pancakes – they looked delicious. Much to my disappointment the ‘banger sanger’ looked a little less than appetising but they all seemed to be enjoying it.
I was surprised with this place, I’m generally not a fan of chain restaurants but Bill’s seems to be floating somewhere in between an independent and a chain. The service is good with friendly and attentive wait staff and it had a pretty relaxed vibe for a Sunday.
If I’m ever in Lewes I will definitely visit the original Bill’s near the sea. Oh, and by the way, this Bill’s has no link whatsoever to the Bills down under.
Footnote – Bill’s Restaurants have 28 locations around London and the UK.
Open for Breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner (BLATD).
Weekend breakfast hours 8am – 1pm
Bloody Mary’s – yes (and damn good according to the staff)
Macchiato – 5 stars, £1.95
Cappuccino – 4 stars, £2.30 and served at Italian temperature
Newspapers – yes
Toilets – downstairs, clean
How does ‘Bill’s’ describe itself? ‘Seasonal smile-on-your-face food’
More details here