Mini-chain Bills Restaurant in Cardiff Bay is a little piece of hipster heaven, with its shabby chic interior, boutique furniture, relaxed artsy vibes, plentiful vegetarian and gluten free options and commitment to working with small local producers and suppliers. Despite an array of recommendations from friends and foodies alike I have shamefully never been to Bills, and I call myself a blogger right? Luckily the situation was to be rectified as we received an invitation to come along to Bill’s ‘Summer of Love’ series, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the famous 1960’s cultural phenomenon, with a series of live gigs across a number their restaurants.
We were to feast upon their dinner menu and also enjoy acoustic performances by singer-songwriter Millie Jane Franks and jazz singer Malaika. This sounded like a perfect way to spend a summer’s evening, listening to jazz with beloved Husband Luke, sipping cocktails and sampling the evening menu. We were greeted by friendly staff who were keen to recommend their favourite cocktails and to also pass advice on which particular ones were ‘instagrammable’. I love it when venues understand the importance of a good Instagram, or what sass mouth husband Luke likes to refer to as ‘Blogger problems’.
Given that for once the sun was shining in Cardiff, I thought it imperative to have a summery cocktail and went with ‘English summer garden’ a cheeky little mix of Bill’s gin, elderflower, lime juice and cloudy apple. I am delighted to report that it was as refreshing as it was pretty. Luke decided to give the ‘Bill’s beer’ a whirl and in his most professional food blogger tone, he concluded that it was, ‘lush’. I fear you may have to go and sample it for yourselves if you would like a more comprehensive review.
It was time to peruse the menu and order some food as an accompaniment to the amazing music performances that were going on. The restaurant was full and there was a really great vibe about the place, clearly adding a bit of live music to the dinner sitting was a real crowd pleaser.
The menu was comprehensive to say the least and I will admit, I normally subscribe to the Gordon Ramsey menu philosophy of ‘keep it f****** simple’. I do get a little anxious when I see curry and burgers on the same menu, as is the case at Bill’s, but as they say, ‘she who dares, eats’, so I boldly ordered halloumi sticks to start, a Thai Green curry for me and a flat iron steak for Luke. One must be brave when one is a blogger right?
First up was the halloumi sticks, I could feel my fear fading as I feasted on the crumbed goodness contrasting with the salty halloumi innards, they were sensibly paired with a refreshing Garlic and lemon mayo. I could only hope that our mains were to be as satisfying.
My Thai Green Curry arrive and I was very pleased to see that it looked as colourful and vibrant and you would expect from a Thai Dish. It was time for the all-important taste test though, having travelled extensively through South East Asia I am ever so particular when it comes to authenticity in Asian food. From the first mouthful, it was clear that they weren’t afraid to go spicy, it had a rather crisp, aromatic kick to it and came rather close to achieving the correct balance of spicy and sweet that you would expect from a Thai green curry. Of course, nothing can beat feasting on the real thing, in a frenetic side street joint in Chiang Mai, but to be fair, Bill’s had knocked up a pretty decent version.
Luke’s steak was presented in a lovely, colourful way and came with fries, salad garnish and a lovely smokey chimichurri sauce, with tomato, olive and red pepper. This lush pesto-like sauce had a balanced mix of herbs, garlic tangy vinegar, I think it’s a marvellous accompaniment to a steak but Luke sadly remains unconvinced, he can be ever such a foodie philistine at times. Luckily he enjoyed the steak, as it was cooked with the right amount of pink and was seasoned really well.
The mains were really filling and it was difficult to muster the strength for dessert, like a total trooper though, I managed to find room and promptly ordered the warm chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream. It’s almost pointless handing me a sweet menu as my go to is always ‘anything chocolatey’. I am sadly not overly adventurous when it comes to selecting a pudding. It was as warm and gooey as you might hope from a chocolate brownie. I always find a good indication of how much I have enjoyed my dessert is how much of it ends up on my face/clothes/hair as I yum it up like some kind of unstoppable pudding maniac.
Overall we had a really positive experience at Bill’s. Like alot of foodie types, I always get a bit holier-than-thou about not visiting so called ‘chain restaurants’. It seems a shame that my misplaced snobbery has kept me out of decent mini-chains like Bill’s for so long. Their food is good, their atmosphere is lively and their staff are above and beyond helpful. My advice to foodie friends would be to go and check a place out before you automatically dismiss it, be bold my loves, seek out all culinary avenues, you’ll be a more rounded diner for it.
Our food was complimentary but my views, as always are my own.