Ah, Bills, you promised so much!
First the plus points - the staff are lovely and friendly, the restaurant is clean and it looks cool and interesting.
Now the downsides - the drinks and the food. Yep.
I was travelling alone and had been busy all day, all I wanted was a quick, nice, meal and then to go to bed. Bill's was next but one to my hotel, hadn't been open long, and looked fab. As soon as I had the door open I was greeted by staff who obligingly sat me at a table with good light so that I could read the newspaper (one perk of dining alone!).
There was fairly loud "surfy" type music playing which must drive the staff insane, but I started to tune it out after a few songs. I'd had a big, but ultimately rewarding, day and I really deserved a drink, so I ordered a glass of their Jeio Rose (£5.45) and thought I'd have something healthy also, a carrot, orange and ginger juice (£3.35). The rose was fine, just what I needed, but the juice was obviously not freshly squeezed and tasted like it came from long life catering packs - very blah, but drinkable.
I saw on their specials list that they had apple and blackberry crumble with custard for dessert, so I thought I'd just have a starter so that I knew I'd have room to fit the crumble in. I ordered the crispy lemon squid with garlic and lemon mayo (£5.95) - that's where it all went a bit wrong.
The squid came out very quickly, which is fine because you're not meant to cook it for long anyway, and was served in a ramekin, on a napkin, on a saucer. The ramekin wasn't big enough to use your knife and fork in, and the squid rings were too big to eat whole, so I tipped them out onto the saucer and got stuck in. They were the strangest tasting things, almost unpleasant, and I couldn't figure out what the flavour was - it sure wasn't lemon. I layered on a heap of salt, then a heap of the garlic and lemon mayo (which was just mayo with no discernible taste), but it was still awful and I couldn't face a plate of it.
So, for the first time ever, I made eye contact with a friendly staff member who came right on over, and said, very quietly, "I'm sorry, but this is really not very nice and I can't eat anymore of it". She was very apologetic and asked if I wanted another serve of it, but I really couldn't face it, so said she'd take it back to the kitchen and bring me a menu so I could choose something else. Great service. Then the friendly manager came over and apologised again and asked me more details about it, which I happily gave. He said it was his favourite dish from the menu and he would head to the kitchen and taste it, which he probably did, but I didn't see him again.
Then I ordered the avocado, bacon and spinach salad (£5.50), which came in a small bowl, on a napkin, on a saucer. Again, the bowl was too small to use your cutlery in, and the spinach leaves were too big to eat whole, so I tipped the lot onto the saucer and dug in. It was fine, just what it should have been, but the dressing ("Bill's dressing") had a strange crunchy texture to it so it felt like you were eating leaves fresh with dirt still on them. Odd.
By the time I'd finished the salad, I was totally over the whole dinner experience. I didn't even order the dessert so you know I wasn't impressed.
I asked for the bill and the squid had been removed from it, which I expected it should have been, then I paid and left - feeling rather let down.
- There are branches of Bills all over the UK, so if you want to experience it for yourself, you can click HERE.
- You can check out their menu HERE.
- You can check out their current specials menu HERE.
140-142 The Parade
Leamington Spa CV32 4AG