Nope, I haven’t just bastardised my blog with excessive punctuation. I’m not even referring to the first ever CD single I bought by Destiny’s Child (really), or the things that come through your letterbox (oops, just went a bit ‘accidental Partridge’ there). I am in fact talking about the freshest eggs, most moreish chutneys and juiciest produce this side of the farmyard.
So what’s so special about Bill’s? I enjoy a good hangover face-feeding as much as the next egg-craving hedonist, but never have Eggs Benedict tasted quite as glorious as this: lemony, buttery Hollandaise smeared across crumpets, ham, crunchy pumpkin seeds and liquid-gold yokes. You can also go Florentine (spinach) and Royale (smoked salmon) if that’s your thing. And it’s not just the brunch: the lunch and dinner menu offers a lovely slice of Englishness – from coarse liver terrine, to Cornish monkfish stew, to Eton mess. There are also flavours of the Med – tapas-style halloumi, hummus and tzatziki – of the States – mac and cheese, pecan pie and mini cinnamon doughnuts – as well as ‘alternative’ options, such as root vegetables instead of chips.
You’d have thought the ‘nom’ factor would be enough to draw in the crowds to this once independent, now almost fully-fledged chain. But the fact that Bill’s is still fundamentally a farm shop featuring an enviable selection of homemade marmalade, beer, oils and vinegar, cheese, chutney and chocolate makes it quite the money-spinner. It’s definitely going for that distinctive M&S marketing: draw people in with the promise of quality, blind them with twee packaging (bows, jars, hampers) and then charge slightly over the odds. The goods back up the marketing proposition, hence wild success.
You can also expect an ‘experience’ from Bill’s; restaurants look and feel like the original Sussex farm shop, with hanging baskets of chillies and dyed wool, exposed industrial ceiling, communal benches and vast wine stores.
During a trip to my old uni city of Cardiff on the weekend I was delighted to spot a Bill’s in the newly-developed bar and restaurant quarter. And with three more London branches popping up soon (Putney, Westfield Shepherd’s Bush and Holborn), make sure you grab brunch at this wonderful eatery before it falls down the chain hole, never to recover. Or possibly to do even bloody better.