Have you ever taken that first bite of a dessert and gone weak at the knees? Bill’s Restaurants’ delectable melt-in-the-mouth Sticky Toffee and Date Pudding is now my favourite sweet treat of all time.
With an ‘industrial’ meets ‘shabby chic’ interior, Bill’s Restaurant in Chichester, West Sussex has a laid-back hipster vibe that’s currently on trend. Despite being hidden away on the first floor of the Butter Market in North Street, a queue was already forming outside the door when we arrived at 12.30 pm on a Saturday afternoon. Luckily, our table was reserved, and we were quickly seated.
The menu had plenty to choose from but not so much as to be bewildering. There was a good range of vegetarian dishes but only a smattering of vegan options. I was particularly impressed with the gluten free menu which had a great range of dishes including breakfasts, burgers, steaks, fish and vegetarian options, as well as desserts and cocktails. My sister-in-law is celiac and she would love it here!
The cocktails sounded very tempting, but I noticed Bill’s had their own London dry gin (£7.95 for a double) so felt duty-bound to try it. My husband, Neill settled on a Bramble Mojito (£6.95) a delicious mix of Pampero Blanco rum, blackberry purée, fresh mint, vanilla and lime juice, topped with soda water. And this was his only complaint about our lunch — his mojito was far too drinkable! I’d love to go back and work my way through all their summer-inspired cocktails (possibly not in one sitting though).
We shared a starter of Crispy Calamari (£6.75) in a light and crisp breadcrumb coating served with garlic and lemon mayonnaise. There was plenty for two and it was thoroughly delicious, if a tad greasy. Next, Neill had a 10oz Sirloin Steak (£18.50) and I had a Thai Green Chicken Curry (£13.25) — a fragrant coconut curry with sugar snap peas, courgettes, lemongrass, ginger and coconut rice. Both were excellent, and my curry was particularly moreish. To accompany our mains, we ordered a pint of Bill’s Beer and a pint of Bill’s IPA. I preferred Neill’s and quite handily he preferred mine, so we swapped and were exceedingly happy with the result. So far Bill’s scored a 10/10 with great food and drinks, service, and ambiance.
“Bill’s is and always has been about providing great food we are proud of and service which is comfortable and all about the guest. We encourage staff to express their own personality and be proud of what they do.” Josh Wright, General Manager
The best, though, was yet to come! The Warm Mini Cinnamon Doughnuts (£5.95) were perfect for sharing and oh-so-good. They were served with fresh strawberries and two dipping sauces — warm chocolate and salted caramel. I’m salivating at the thought of them. Even better still was the Sticky Toffee and Date Pudding (£6.25) with vanilla ice cream and toasted hazelnuts. We were both in raptures and agreed it was the best dessert we’d ever tasted. Over the last few years, I’ve travelled all over the world, often on food-themed press trips, so I’ve had more than my fair share of superb, edible delights. It’s a joy to find something so good right on my doorstep.
I think it is safe to say that we will be heading back to Bill’s Restaurant before too long, be that to the Chichester branch or one of the many other branches in Sussex and across the country. I’m eager to try something (everything!) from their breakfast menu and to sample their other desserts. Could anything top their Sticky Toffee and Date Pudding? Is this the best dessert in Sussex? I’ll keep you updated.
I was intrigued to learn that Bill’s story began in the town of Lewes, where he started as a greengrocer. Following a devastating flood, he re-opened in 2001 in a new location on Lewes High Street, this time with a café and the aim to serve great food in a welcoming atmosphere that people wanted to return to. It was an immediate success. I wonder if, back then, Bill ever imagined his business growing into a national brand with over 80 restaurants? All I know is that I’m very pleased it did.
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Our meal at Bill’s was complimentary for review purposes but, as always, we will only share our honest opinions with you, otherwise, there would be little point.
Travel Blogger ‘Travel With Kat’ and Co-founder of Sussex Bloggers