Having spent several months in London, I've slowly developed an aversion for chain restaurants. Back at home, I usually associate big name chains with a guarantee in good quality, but here it seems more often than not that chains guarantee average food and average service with very little heart or effort being put behind either.
So even though I've walked past the Bill's in Angel several times, its 'casual and friendly vibe' has put me off as being generic and manufactured as opposed to welcoming. However, a tight schedule and a hungry belly finally drove me into Bill's and I have to say that I was very pleasantly surprised. Whilst I felt the decor and atmosphere was tinged with inauthenticity, the warm and friendly service was very much real as I was welcomed by the staff who was very attentive throughout our short wait for our table to be ready, and throughout our meal, even though the fairly large restaurant was completely packed.
We started our meal with Mini Cumberland Sausages glazed with honey, which were very tasty and finished within seconds, even though they came in quite a large portion for the price.
We also had the Crab, Salmon and Chilli Fishcakes, which were also great. Although they look like Thai fish cakes, they are actually Western fish cakes with a croquette-like texture. The outside was pan fried until nicely browned, adding an additional layer of flavour to the already tasty fishcake. The bed of salad the fishcakes sat on was refreshing and tangy, with its mango salsa and lemon dressing.
I was slightly disappointed with my Chargrilled Rib Eye, which was quite thin cut for a 10 oz piece of steak. Thankfully, it was still quite tender and the meat had a great chargrilled flavour to it.
The special of the day was BBQ Pork Ribs, which was huge! I thought the ribs tasted pretty good, even though it was a bit dry, and they make some mean sweet potato fries that could even rival those of Bubbledogs!
The beer battered haddock also came in a very hefty portion, as you can see in the picture, and was done very well. The batter, although more brown than golden, was crisp without being too greasy and even though the fillet was much thicker on one end than the other, all of it was still very tender and succulent. If only this could have come with sweet potato fries too...
Many people have commented on the overbearingly commercialness of the place because of the wide array of goods being sold at the restaurant. However, I did not feel that it was being forced to my attention (as some reviews seem to suggest), nor did it put me off my meal at all. I even started to take a liking to the gaudy coloured bottles and jars on the shelves and the 'retro vibe' was actually rubbing off on me.
All in all, Bill's won me over - I hadn't expected it but I had a great meal! The food was great, the prices reasonable and the service unwaveringly friendly. I will definitely be back for a quick breakfast or lunch when I'm around and in need of something good to eat.
Price: £ £ out of 5
You can find the Bill's home page here.