Restaurant Review: Bill’s, Richmond, Surrey

Bill’s is a very welcome new addition to Richmond’s choice of cafes and restaurants, occupying a prime location right by Richmond Bridge. I’ve watched the building being transformed for months but although Bill’s opened a few weeks ago, I only made my first visit at lunchtime today.

I hadn’t been to any Bill’s before but they are gaining a good reputation and the menu looked just perfect for lunch … well, anytime of day really, but the range meant one could have anything from a snack to a full meal, depending on your appetite and plans for the rest of the day.

It was quite busy inside but the tables weren’t packed too closely together and the large space was divided up into sections so there was a nice, cosy feel to it all. In some areas there were big leather Chesterfield sofas for people to sit on, making it a great place for morning coffee or drinks and snacks with friends.

I decided to go for two starters rather than one main dish, which I think is a good lunchtime option if you don’t want anything too heavy. But mostly I chose this because I liked the sound of one of the specials, a starter: risotto balls (arancini) with a red chicory and chilli salad (£5.65).

The risotto balls were stuffed with mozzarella that oozed nicely out when I cut into them. I enjoyed them but felt they could have done with a little more seasoning. However, they were wonderfully fresh tasting – as in freshly cooked – with a good lightness to them (arancini can easily be too stodgy and heavy if badly prepared), and it was a nice, crisply fresh salad.

My second starter (I asked to have them both at the same time) was bruschetta with tomatoes, basil, crumbled goat’s cheese and crispy onion rings. This was very good. It was also quite a large portion – so with the risotto balls, also a healthy portion, I’d ended up with quite a lot to eat. The bruschetta toast was a thick piece of country bread that had been perfectly toasted; the tomatoes were full of flavour. Everything was well balanced.

Nina went for one main course: moules frites. We were deep in conversation by this stage and I forgot to ask how they were but they looked good, so I hope they were! The service was excellent. Just at the point when I started to think we were waiting quite a long time for our food, the manager came over to us and apologised for the wait but said our food would be with us in a couple of minutes – which is was. I thought it was good he was taking notice of what was going on. Our waiter was friendly and attentive. The service was just the kind I like, really efficient with the right amount of friendliness. I don’t like the over-the-top friendliness when they want to introduce themselves and ask about your day. I’m English. So Bill’s for me was absolutely right.

The puddings sounded good – warm chocolate brownie, raspberry and vanilla creme brulee and other temptations. But for us, not at lunchtime. We settled for just coffee instead.  The bill came to just under £34 for the two of us, including two soft drinks and service.

I really liked Bill’s and am very glad they’ve come to Richmond. I’m sure it’s going to become a regular haunt.

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A lifelong lover of good food and travel; writer and book editor

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