With Leeds often regarded as the capital of the north, it’s a wonder it’s taken this long for Bill’s to make their mark on the city centre. With restaurants up and down the country, and a large presence in and around London, it’s clear the brand has come a long way from its humble beginnings in East Sussex. Beginning as a greengrocers and expanding to what is now 66 restaurants nationally, every choice has been carefully made to reflect their heritage. Bill’s have taken up residence on picturesque Albion Place, right in the heart of Leeds’ city centre, in a building previously owned by the Leeds Law Society.
Despite choosing my first Bill’s experience to be midweek, the restaurant was busy with students and young professionals all looking for tried and tested good food. With mirrored walls, chalkboards and an array of candles, the atmosphere feels intimate, and a warm and welcome setting for anything from a date to a group meal. Serving a large menu of breakfast, lunch and dinner, the choices vary from typically British to dishes a bit more adventurous.
With the attitude of ‘if I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it properly’, I opted for the pan-fried sea bass and parsley potato rösti. As anticipated, the presentation of every meal was aesthetically pleasing to the eye, and the flavour combinations well thought out and well delivered. My friends chose the slow cooked duck leg and lime and coriander chicken respectively, all of which was to the same high standard with good portion sizes. Never one to shy away from a sweet treat, the warm chocolate brownie and ice cream caught my eye and certainty didn’t disappoint. My fellow diners went for the warm mini cinnamon doungnuts with a chocolate dipping sauce – which I really, really regret not ordering – and the treacle tart, a British tradition done perfectly.
If you’re looking to incorporate a meal into a night out, Bill’s has an extensive drinks selection that shouldn’t be overlooked. The cocktail list consists of old favourites, such as the classic Bloody Mary, but also includes a few twists like their Bramble Mojito. The extensive wine list and range of lagers, including Camden Hells, wouldn’t be out of place at a bar on Call Lane, but if you fancy breakfast at Bill’s the choice of smoothies would mend any hangover. Staying true to their greengrocer roots, they even have a little shop incorporated in the restaurant selling jams, chutneys, and confectionary to take a taste home with you.
Although I usually tend to stray from chain restaurants in Leeds due to such an abundance of quirky independent food outlets, Bill’s doesn’t fulfil the usual cliché and offers something different. It may be pricier than what an average student might expect to pay, but the quality of ingredients, general atmosphere and friendly and courteous staff makes splurging that little bit more justified.