Yes, I know it was only ten days ago that I was writing about my first visit to Bill’s in Richmond – in fact, my first visit to any Bill’s, although I’d heard good things about them – but they liked my post about lunch so much they said they’d love me to come back to enjoy an evening meal and offered me a dinner on the house for two so I could have the evening Bill’s experience.
Now, when I do restaurant or cafe reviews, I never tell the people there I’m going to write a post about them on my blog. I prefer to be incognito. I even try to be very unobtrusive about using my camera. I prefer to write about places I like and want to recommend than places I don’t like or have a bad meal, so I mostly only write positive reviews (though the odd negative one creeps in, I have to confess). Thus, heading back to Bill’s last night, I was thinking, I hope I like it; I hope it’s a good meal! But I needn’t have worried.
Son Jonathan was beneficiary of the second guest meal last night. An accountant by day, he’s invariably found in the kitchen at home or by his barbecue in the garden cooking up a storm of fabulous food and so, not only would he be good company, but he’d bring a sharp critical eye to our food.
We were given a table by the window with a view out across the Thames and Richmond Bridge. It’s quite dark in Bill’s as you can see from my photo (Note to Food Blogger, invest in a better camera!) but this doesn’t really do it justice because it’s not uncomfortably dark, but cosy and inviting and Jonathan and I discussed it was easily a place to sit for a long time and relax. As I said in my previous review, the large space has been thoughtfully divided up into smaller areas, which adds to the cosiness. We started by ordering glasses of wine (neither of us wanted to drink too much) and bread. We opted to just have a main course with option (taken up by me!) of a dessert after.
For our main courses, Jonathan chose Chargrilled Rib Eye steak served with skinny fries and mustard hollandaise.
He asked for it medium-rare and that’s exactly what he got, as you can see. This is no small point: it’s not unusual, unless you’re in a top notch place, to find that your medium-rare preference isn’t completely understood or the chef doesn’t know how to judge the right moment to plate it. But Bill’s got it absolutely right and Jonathan said the steak was tender and very tasty.
I opted for Grilled Seabream with a Pressed Tagliatelle Cake with Fennel, Spring Onion and a Slaw of Basil, Mint, Coridander and Salsa Verde.
It was a lovely plump fillet of seabream, perfectly cooked, moist with a crispy skin. I loved the freshness of the salad and although I’d been a little uncertain about ‘tagliatelle cake’ it really amounted to fish served with tagliatelle. It was excellent.
For years, it’s been rare for me to eat desserts in restaurants, especially midweek, but Bill’s were so inviting and the blog became a good excuse in my mind to try one out, so I opted for Raspberry & Vanilla Creme Brulee. Jonathan ordered a second spoon!
I’m always slightly suspicious of desserts in chain restaurants: they are invariably disappointing (something I said to Jonathan). My creme brulee arrived and it was large, so I was pleased I was sharing. We cut into it and immediately knew it was good. The custard was just set so that it was light and soft and absolutely delicious, the slight tartness of the raspberries cutting through the sweetness of the custard; the caramel topping not too heavy but with a nice crack as you cut through it.
We finished with coffee for me and mint tea for Jonathan. They gave us goody bags to bring home – gorgeous looking Bill’s cookies for me and Bill’s beer for Jonathan.
I felt like I’d been to a party! And what a relief – I can truly say it was a very good meal and – although we didn’t pay last night – it’s excellent value. The steak Jonathan had is £15.95 and my seabream £11.50; the creme brulee only £4.95. We’ll definitely be going back – many times, I imagine. Meanwhile, it was scooter home for Jonathan and a walk back across Richmond Bridge for me to the bus stop.
Richmond is such a beautiful place to live and even after many years, I never fail to be slightly awed by how lovely the view is as I cross the bridge. What a lovely evening too – the company of my son, a delicious meal and such a friendly welcome from Bill’s.