For ages now I've lusted over photos of London based bloggers eating at Bill's restaurants, so when they opened a place in Durham, myself and Ray just had to go!

Bill's is a contemporary European chain of restaurants which serves separate breakfast, afternoon tea, lunch and dinner menus in a family style restaurant set up. The interior of the Durham Bill's is quirky and industrial with a modern yet homely feel to it, I instantly liked it when I walked inside and loved the little finishing touches of quotes from Bill himself dotted around the room.

Bill's started off as a tiny green grocers in East Sussex which developed into a cafe a few years later thanks to a flood which ruined the original set up. Business boomed and Bill's grew and grew into what it is today, a chain of 73 restaurants spread from Brighton to Glasgow and plenty of places in between.
They cater from breakfast to bedtime, and still follow the same values as they did in the beginning; to serve really good food, to make sure every customer has a really good time and to make sure Bill's is always somewhere people want to go back to.

We visited at around 5pm, after starving ourselves all day (not recommended young ones!) in preparation for filling our faces with delicious food!
The restaurant is long and thin, and when we arrived with no reservation it seemed as though the only spare tables were tiny ones right at the front, either right next to a man who was seated alone or tucked in behind the till next to the door. We were given the table behind the till, which although a little cramped seemed okay at first, but after hearing a few other people come in without reservations and being taken to the back, I was a little annoyed we had been given such a terrible place to eat. It may seem a little picky of me to have a gripe about this, as it was busy and eventually did completely fill up, so someone would have had to sit there. As the night went on though, I got more and more agitated about the fact that the staff were just hanging around behind the till with their backs to us, drinking energy drinks which were stashed there and the fact that our table was level with their bottoms was not good, it's really not what you want next to your food while you're eating. 
There was someone not dressed in uniform who came across as more senior than the waitresses who really bothered me the most, at times I felt as though she was talking about us, she was laughing, dancing, singing and she was being really rude to someone who seemed to be a new member of staff... The majority of the diners would have been completely unaware of this, as she had her back to the restaurant, but her behaviour was in full view for us and one other table. She was also the reason we chose not to leave a tip at the end of the meal.
Let's get on to the food... Myself and Ray ordered the Watermelon, Peach & Raspberry juice to drink, which was presented really nicely with a slice of watermelon on the side of the glass, and tasted delicious and so refreshing.
For starters I ordered the Crispy Calamari which was served with garlic and parsley with a tartare sauce and red pepper tapenade and Ray ordered the Crumbed Halloumi Sticks which came with lemon garlic mayonnaise and picked red onions (sorry I didn't get a photo of Ray's!)
Both starters were really tasty and the portions were very generous - I didn't even eat all of my calamari, there was so much of it and I knew I needed to save space for my main.
The main courses soon followed, I had the Bill's Hamburger served in a toasted bun with horseradish mayonnaise, extra streaky bacon and skin on fries and Ray had the Fish Finger Sandwich which was served on toasted farmhouse bread with tartare sauce, rocket salad, ketchup and sweet potato fries.
On the menu my burger said it would come with lettuce, tomato and red onion - all of which I asked to be left off (I'm not a salad fan) but strangely it came with gherkins, tomato and a piece of lettuce... I didn't complain because they were easily taken off the burger, but I did find it very strange that things which weren't even on the menu arrived in my burger.
Nevertheless, the burger was nice, nothing particularly wonderful, but I enjoyed it and ate it all... Ray said her sandwich was okay too, again nothing really to shout about, but the majority got eaten.
While eating my main course I was asked if I would like some water for the table, as I had finished my drink... I gratefully accepted and after a long wait, the bottle of water came and also appeared on the bill at the end, which made me feel a little cheated.

We didn't bother with desserts, mainly because we were quite full, but also due to the staff I mentioned. I was going to order the warm mini cinnamon doughnuts or the treacle tart if I had been hungry enough - how good do they both sound?!

I would like to visit again to give Bill's another chance... I'd maybe choose a different branch though, as the service really did put me off a lot. I still want to try those desserts and the peanut butter and banana french toast from the breakfast menu sounds amazing.

Are you a fan of Bill's?


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