|Bill's Restaurant, Cardiff|
A couple of weeks ago I finally caved in the face of needing a pre-theatre option in town, and booked a table at Bill's at the top of Wyndham Arcade. I'm sure we all know the story by know, but here it is again. Bill Collison's store was originally an independent grocer/deli/cafe in East Sussex and was very successful, enjoying a healthy reputation for tasty, simple food and overflowing with good produce. Enter stage left, Richard Caring (of the Ivy, J Sheeky et al) who buys a big chunk of the company, and Bill's shifts a gear, aggressively expanding first into London and then across the rest of the country.
|Crispy lemon squid|
Bill's prawn and avocado cocktail with spicy tomato salsa and cocktail sauce garnished with deep fried tiger prawn, ciabatta crisps and lemon (£5.95) was decent but unremarkable.
|Well done burger|
The best of the night was definitely the Home-made cod fish finger sandwich with tartare sauce, rocket and ketchup on toasted white bread served with skinny fries (£8.50). The fish was moist, tasty and nicely cooked and a huge portion for such a bargainous price.
|The best of the night, Bill's Homemade Cod Fish Finger Sandwich|
Bill's success is great for Bill who remains a director of the company but is no longer hands on and it shows. If his ethos is to 'cook with the seasons' there is little evidence of it here, and just as a seasonal menu has been replaced with chain pub food, so the groceries have been replaced with eponymously branded cross-selling opportunities. Once you have eaten Bill's breakfasts, burgers, and butties you can now fill your boots with Bill's beer, balsamic and biscuits.
I see why it is popular, I really do and I am trying not to be a food snob, but considering the chain's history, and the juxtaposition against some of Cardiff's finest independents, the whole experience left me feeling full but also a little empty.
27-39 Wyndham Arcade, Mill Lane, Cardiff CF10 1FH