Review: Bill's On North Road, Brighton
Bill’s Brighton restaurant opened in 2005, following the success of the original Lewes Bill’s. They have now got restaurants across the country, but you have to hand it to them, they aren’t like any other chain. We went there early on a Monday evening - and were led to a romantic candle light table for two. A perfect evening.
Bill’s Brighton has a special kind of atmosphere - always buzzing but with a homely and welcoming vibe that makes you feel immediately at ease. One thing I love about them is that they manage to maintain authenticity and the feel of an independent - kooky art on the walls, industrial piping and lighting, and shelves full of ornaments and beautifully packaged products.
The customer service at Bill’s is incredible and always astounds me. As soon as we arrived we were greeted in such a friendly way and led to a romantic candlelight table for two. The staff go out of their way to make you feel welcomed and special and are more than happy to answer any questions or queries you have.
I am also always shocked at the way the waiting staff are able to remember everything you’ve ordered without having to write any of it down. We could also observe the same kind of service quality at the tables around us.
Since I went vegan I hadn’t really considered going to Bills as I tend to frequent restuarants in Brighton that are vegetarian and vegan orientated, but I decided to use this opportunity to check out what they had to offer.
The menu was pretty huge and there was a lot of choice of you’re an omnivore and a good selection of vegetarian options, however as a vegan there were only a few things I could choose from - but there was at least one option for starter, main and desert which is definitely commendable.
Hermione's Choice: Watermelon Cooler
It was huge and very flamboyant with it’s chunk of watermelon on the side. I would definitely recommend this as a sweet and refreshing alternative to an alcoholic bev. I also finished my meal with a really nice, fresh loose leaf mint tea which was the perfect choice for an after dinner drink.
Anna's Choice: Carrot, Apple and Ginger Juice
To be honest I was a little hungover that day, so this seemed like the perfect re-fresher for me and indeed it was! Next to Hermione's drink it admittedly looks a little bland, but as we all know: Looks can be deceiving. It tasted fresh, smooth and spot on. Everything you could want from a juice.
We shared a deliciously oily Rosemary and Garlic Bruschetta, which is one of my all time favourite sides/starter dishes. It was so tasty and had just the right amount of saltiness - I’m a huge fan of the classic combo of garlic and rosemary and really enjoyed this light, crispy starter.
Anna's Choice: Halloumi Burger
For my hungover body it was clear quite quickly: A burger it shall be. I love halloumi. I am vegetarian. There we go. It was a solid burger with tomato hummus, sweet chilli sauce, roasted red peppers, pea shoots and red onion all in between two sesame bun halves. I really liked the chilli sauce, it gave the burger a twist to the classic idea, however I have to say that it did not really sweep me off my feet.
To be fair, the burger competition in Brighton is really high. One thing that I found a little bit of a shame was the temperature. It was definitely warm and we did take pictures of the food before eating, but it still was not the kind of hot you would really desire your food to come out. However it was definitely nice and satisfied my burger-needs.
On the side were delicious crispy fries in a cone with some lime aioli. I also added extra guacamole, because avocado. I don't think I need to explain. I was not the biggest fan of the aioli. I did not taste quite like what I expected. Instead of a fresh limey garlic taste I fund it rather sour (not in a gone bad way) however together with the guacamole I really enjoyed it. I think the price of £10,75 was an ok price for this dish.
Hermione's Choice: Ancient Grain Bowl
For my main course I could choose from a Butternut Squash, Turmeric and Coconut Curry or their Ancient Grain bowl. I had come thinking about a burger, as I know Bills do really good ones, so these two didn’t really excite me too much at first. However, in the end I opted for the Ancient Grains Bowl which was a yummy sounding and definitely healthier option. This choice was perfect if you’re looking for a light salad-based lunch or dinner, and it tasted great, however, if you’re a hungry vegan that loves to eat it’s maybe not for you.
The bowl contained a mixture of grains including black quinoa, millet, wild rice, buckwheat, salad, cherry tomatoes, red pepper, avocadoes, tenderstem broccoli and a really nice red pepper tapenade. It had a great mixture of textures, colours and on the whole was a really lovely dish- however I did feel that it was a little bit lacking for £9.95. My only complaints were that it was a bit ‘fridge cold’ which I felt hampered the flavours a little, and that it could have been more flavourful, maybe the dressing could have been a tad stronger. Once I go to the tapenade at the bottom and mixed that round a bit, the dish definitely got taken to the next level and I really enjoyed it.
Unfortunately the only dessert I could have was a a lemon sorbet and I wasn’t really feeling that - chocolate fan that I am. I was so jealous of Anna’s chocolate brownie and ice cream which looked absolutely incredible.
Anna's Brownie review: I was very much dying of a food coma at this point already so was rather tricked into getting this brownie. If you know me, you know chocolate is my downfall so of course I went for it. What can I say? It was a dream. It was not too sweet (which I find is the most common mistake with brownies), it was moist, melting on my tongue and it was WARM!
This is always he biggest plus and that way the Vanilla ice cream really brought some depth to this desert. If I could eat anything everyday for the rest of my life, it might be this brownie. They even wrapped up the rest for me (I had it for breakfast the next day) and look at the cute packaging. That's an accurate depiction of the service you are getting.
Although there aren’t many dairy free, gluten free or vegan options on the menu, Bill’s are extremely accommodating to dietary intolerances, and take them very seriously. They even do their own special intolerances menu.
The kitchen are happy to replace and swap out items where they can and will even go as far as to create a whole new meal combination for you to make sure that you are able to eat. They double check everything they have in the kitchen and will change the dish or adjust according to the customers needs.
I would definitely recommend Bills for vegetarians and omnivores, I wouldn’t consider it a ‘destination’ for vegans in Brighton but you are definitely well catered for if you do happen to find yourself there- and the staff and atmosphere definitely make up for lack of variety on the menu.
Fun Fact: They are conscious of their carbon footprint and try to make sure that they run their restaurants as efficiently as possible with as lower impact on the environment as they can. They don’t use plastic straws, offer compostable coffee cups (although it’s then up to you to dispose of these correctly) have cut down on paper in their restaurants, are big on their recycling and are part of the Refill campaign. You can find out more about on their Sustainability page.
Written by Hermione Berendt, Co-Founder of Revival Collective.
Disclaimer: Food and drinks were given to us for free in return for this review, but our opinions are our own.