When we go to review somewhere it is usually somewhere we have never been before …..not somewhere that you have already been twice that week!
OK, let me explain!
I was out with mum for lunch the day before my birthday when we happened across a lovely little bistro type restaurant tucked away up Saddler Street, Durham. With the intention of having a sandwich or something we were a little disappointed to see that the menu was all pretty much cooked meals, having talked mum into going for it (shes a stickler for not having too much at lunchtime!) we decided to split one of the share starters as our lunch. Anyways, we ended up leaving with full tummies and mum saying that she would definitely consider something like that again in the future instead of a sandwich and would certainly be back to Bills!
Yayy – I call that a win!
Anyways, fast forward 3 days and I got to have a girly night out with my bestie, Caroline from The Mary Lou Saga, and we decided on Bills again under my recommendation (on my head be it if she didn’t like it!) We went all out and had a full 3 courses, cocktails and coffee – thankfully we both proclaimed it to be possibly the best place we have been out to together! (There is a whole girls night blog post coming up soon where I will cover more on this!)
Fast forward to Friday and we were invited along to try the Lunch menu, bear in mind this is the third time in 1 week and I still jumped at the chance to try the lunch time menu properly!
I asked mum if she would like to come along with me and she was overjoyed at the chance to get to try something different and probably didn’t eat the whole day before in anticipation of 3 courses for lunch! We arrived at 12 and it was already looking as though it was filling up so thankful we hadn’t made our booking for any later.
We were seated in a booth which was ambient, cosy and perfectly situated for people watching, plus we were in direct line of staff walking past so were constantly asked if we needed drinks topping up or anything else at all they could help with. Honestly, the staff are first class, everyone is treat with respect and nothing seems to be a problem, the staff are constantly on the go and very pleasant to speak to!
We were asked if we would like drinks and anything to stave off the hunger while we waited for mains so we went for 2 glasses of Pinot and the Rosemary & Potato bread with dipping oils. Thinking we would have plenty of time before the starters arrived, however we had only just torn the bread and the first course arrived!
For starter mum opted for the Ham Hock and I (shock horror!) went for the Calamari! Being a lunch menu we knew that the servings would be smaller than on a night time but there was more than enough in each dish to keep anyone happy, the only issue we had was that mum thought the ham hock would have been in pate form but was in chunks of meat instead, she said it was beautiful none the less just not what she was expecting!
Mains were Minute Steak for myself and Pan Fried Sea Bass for mum. Having never had seabass before I could see the look of trepidation on mums face and she did whisper what would she do if it was full of bones, however she needn’t have worried. When it arrived it looked delicious and after the first bite she proclaimed that she would definitely choose it again and it was possibly one of the nicest dishes she had tried!
My minute steak was cooked to perfection and the garlic butter that accompanied was to die for!
Having had enough time to sit and let our meals settle we were offered the dessert menu….well, we weren’t going to say no were we! I did ask what they would recommend and we were advised to try the Chocolate Brownie and the Treacle Tart, so we went with the prescribed dishes. Mum went for the Chocolate as she isn’t keen on treacle and having had a sneak of the brownie it was a good choice, thick and very dense chocolate with a good dollop of cream! My treacle tart was served with lemon cream which broke the heaviness of the tart, but even then I simply couldn’t finish it all, admitting defeat and leaving a little (and I mean a little, i really did try!)
Not once did we feel hurried to finish any course and we sat drinking our coffees whilst chatting to the manager about the history of Bills and how they aren’t an independent restaurant which we initially thought – we have eaten at so many chains and they all have the same feel, Bills has a unique, homey, really ‘the customer is well looked after’ feel to it that generally only comes with independents! WELL DONE!!
I seriously cannot fault Bills at all, the food, atmosphere, staff and value for money is tremendous and I would dine there at least 3 times EVERY week given half the chance!