Home   Whats On   Article

Subscribe Now

Here's what we thought of our dining out experience at Bill's in Bury St Edmunds





.

When Bill opened his first shop and cafe in Lewes in 2001, he traded in fresh produce and became known especially for that.

More shops followed - the latest in Manchester springing up just before the pandemic hit in 2019.

And two decades on from that start honed in fresh produce and a desire to use seasonal ingredients, the chain seems in particularly rude health.

Chicken dumplings to start
Chicken dumplings to start

We visited the Bury St Edmunds branch, at the top of Abbeygate Street, on a busy Saturday night. It was the first time we had been since a somewhat *eventful* New Year's Eve three years ago which saw us end up with several free meal vouchers and a whole host of apologies - so Bill's had some making up to do.

We needn't have worried - we left pleasantly fed and watered and vowing to return far faster the next time.

The place was buzzing when we arrived but we were seated quickly and efficiently.

Devilled chicken skewers
Devilled chicken skewers

The decor in Bill's is one of its trademarks - if you've ever seen the Pompidou Centre in Paris, that's the one thing which always comes to mind. That Parisian building back in 1977 was an eye-opener for me, as the first major example of an 'inside-out' building. Bill's, similarly, has all its ducting and pipework exposed on the inside for a messy urban feel which I really like.

Waiting staff can literally make or break a meal and the three different staff we had the pleasure to come across on Saturday were each polite, talkative and knowledgeable. I know that's their job, but there wasn't anything forced about it and it made the evening much more of a pleasure.

We started with Crispy chicken and sesame dumplings (£6.50) and Devilled chicken skewers (£6.95). The dumplings were a surprise - six on the plate and a very decent sized starter. You may get away with sharing that between two. The skewers were moist, coming with lime and tzatziki, and fell off the skewers.

Halloumi and avocado burger
Halloumi and avocado burger

There was no fish pie on the night we arrived so I changed tack and went for the Spiced cauliflower and butternut squash falafel bowl (£12.50). I added a couple of chicken skewers for £3.50, which proved sensible as it was one of the lighter mains. It's a mix of grains, cauliflower couscous, kale, spring onion and pickled red onion served with a turmeric and mint soy yoghurt. Very tasty indeed and one of those dishes which makes my insides smile.

My partner surprised me, going for the Halloumi and avocado burger (£12.50), which came with rosemary salted fries. The halloumi and avo combination got a major thumbs-up while the fries were actually very decent and maintained their hit. No-one likes a cold fry.

I went for three scoops of ice cream and sorbet to finish (£4.95) while across the table sat a fine looking Salted caramel and chocolate tart (£6.75). But it didn't sit there for very long.

Spiced cauliflower and butternut squash falafel bowl
Spiced cauliflower and butternut squash falafel bowl

Dining out in Bury St Edmunds is a real joy. The foodie capital of East Anglia? Quite possibly, given the town has everything now from Michelin starred eateries, through large independent hotel brands and national chains down to some great indies.

Bill's really does add something to the mix. It was full when we left at around 9pm - the earlier groups of families had made way for some early Valentine's diners, larger birthday celebrations and regular diners just out for some decent food which wasn't going to break the bank.

The bad memories of our New Year's Eve in 2019 were quickly erased and Bill's is firmly back on our radar.

Salted caramel and chocolate tart
Salted caramel and chocolate tart