Wednesday, 18 February 2015

A Double Date at Bills in Durham

Back when I lived in London I was very fond of a spot of brunch on a Saturday morning and was always on the look out for somewhere new to try.  It was a Google search for "best brunch in London" that lead me to St Martin's Courtyard and my first ever visit to Bills, a produce store and restaurant that soon became my favourite place for breakfast.

Unfortunately for me, my little secret haven didn't stay secret for long and on my next visit queues for tables were out of the door, it seemed that Bills had captured the imagination of foodies in the capital.



Fast forward a few years and Bills now has over 50 restaurants across the UK, not bad for a little family run business that began life in Sussex only 14 years ago.

When I first relocated to the North East I was a little gutted that I was moving to a part of the country that didn't have a Bills.  So as soon as I heard a little whisper that we might finally be getting one I kept my ear to the ground until the news reached me that Bills was to open in Durham.

If I was to pick a place in the North East to have a Bills then Durham would be my perfect choice.   A gorgeous little city full of cobbled streets, river views and beautiful buildings.  It's a great fit for Bills.

When Bills invited us to try out their new restaurant I decided to bring along my friend Kayleigh and her boyfriend Chris to introduce them to Bills.  Pressure was on after telling them all about the menu stuffed full of lovely food.

Like many branches of Bills, the Durham restaurant is very popular with every table taken.  If you want to drop by to try it out for yourself, make sure you book in advance!

As a fan I've been to a number of Bills restaurants and although their newest space is laid out in Bill's typical style with chalk boards and shelves full of produce, the Durham restaurant definitely has its own charm with plenty of tables in cute little hideaways.

I've had so many Bills breakfasts over the years that I decided for our first visit to Durham we'd try something different and have some lunch.  The lunch and dinner menu is served from 11:45 am until late and is bursting with dishes to suit every taste.



We turned our attention to the drinks menu first and were impressed with the amount of non alcoholic beverages available.  I usually just find myself ordering a Diet Coke when I'm not drinking but there were so many other options at Bills it took me a little while to decide.

In the end I opted for Cream Soda and Rhubarb, it was sweet and refreshing - I really enjoyed the little hint of rhubarb.  Kayleigh had Bill's Pink Lemonade which comes served with strawberries.  I've tried the Pink Lemonade before and it's gorgeous.  You can also order it as an ice-cream soda and it's so refreshing on a hot Summer's day.



Typical Simon went for the naughtiest drink he could find on the menu and ordered the chocolate brownie milkshake which was served with cream and a flake.  In his own words "it was goooooooooooood!"



The Main Course was an even tougher decision with a great list of home comforts, classics, grills and steaks to chose from.  I quite often find myself tempted by vegetarian dishes when I'm out and this time the Mac n Cheese with Butternut Squash sounded too good to resist.   It was seriously scrummy and I'll be ordering it again on my next visit.



Kayleigh ordered the Pan-Fried Sea Bass which looked amazing and both boys had burgers.   I'm not sure if anyone else is counting how many burgers Simon has had so far in his hunt for the best burger in the North East but I think it's been a fair few!  He was very impressed with this one and pretty much fell silent as he happily munched his way through it.


There's a great range of desserts at Bills so we knew to make sure we had enough room for some pudding. 

I ordered the Rhubarb and Stem Ginger Crème Brulee.  I'm a massive fan of rhubarb and ginger so was pretty excited at the prospect of having the two flavours together.  My portion was very generous, I loved the tang of rhubarb mixed with the sweet Crème Brulee and the buttery ginger biscuits served on the side were beautiful.



Simon had the Eton Mess which he enjoyed but admitted was a little too sweet for him (anyone else thinking this could have something to do with him ordering a chocolate milkshake  AND  dessert?!)



Kayleigh had the Lemon Meringue Pie Cheesecake in a glass and Chris ordered the Warm Chocolate Brownie.  I always love when everyone at your table orders different desserts, it's good to see what you're missing out on.   This time I definitely think that I had the winning dessert but I'm pretty sure the others would probably argue that they did.

As well as eating at Bills you can also shop!  The shelves are full of cookery books, jars of jam, sweets and bottles of pop.   Each product has such beautiful packaging and it makes the restaurant alive with colour.


If you can't be bothered to get up off your seat (which admittedly is difficult after you've indulged in too much food) you can peruse the shopping list that's on the table, fill in what you'd like to buy and pass it to your Bill's server who will package your items up beautifully in some of Bill's bright coloured paper.   I've never ordered anything myself, but my friend Kate orders the chocolate orange buttons each time we go, she's addicted!

You can also shop online here .   I have my eye on quite a few things for our next visit - some cherry jam, some cappuccino buttons and of course a bottle of pink lemonade.



I am quite literally bursting with excitement that Bills have finally arrived in the North East and I can't wait for you all to get out there and give it a try for yourselves.  Please do let me know if you visit! 

Now I just have my fingers firmly crossed that another Bills pops up in Newcastle.  Me, greedy?  Never!

Bills treated us to a complimentary lunch but all enthusiasm is my own.  I have had countless meals at Bills and have always loved the food .. just ask all the friends I've introduced to Bills over the years.

28 comments:

  1. Oh this looks wonderful! We rarely visit Durham but when we do we will most certainly be booking Bills. Love the drinks! #NEBrilliantBloggers

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    1. Yes definitely, and a little birdie told me that we should be getting one closer to Newcastle soon ...shoooooooooooosh ;) x

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  2. Such a good write up and such a lovely day, thanks for inviting us! But you're wrong, my dessert was the best ;) haha

    Kay xx
    Idreamofcoco.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. You're so welcome, it was really lovely and I loved that our men folk got to meet :) x

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  3. I've still never been to Bills! I eye up the York one everytime I walk past but I'm rarely organised enough to book in advance!

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    1. WHAT?!! You need to go ... they do afternoon tea you know!

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  4. That Eton Mess looks amazing - I need to get to Bills soon.

    Lizzie Dripping

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    1. I'm yet to try it, might need to order it on my next visit!

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  5. I keep on googling 'Bill's Leeds' in the hope that something will pop up about a new opening! I'm off to one in Farnham in the South East tonight though and I was thinking about the Mac n Cheese which I haven't yet tried, and you've swayed me! Although I imagine every single dish has rave reviews so I guess you can't go wrong. I'm just dying for some of their sweet potato fries as well though... you can't find that kind of thing anywhere in France!

    Imogen // imogen

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    1. That's exactly what I was doing, constantly googling "Bills North East" .. and then one day it popped up! So just keep trying! I remember when they started expanding in London and one opened in Wimbledon a 5 minute walk from my house, mi god I was giddy!

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  6. I’ve just found your blog and I’d like to say that I’m in love with it!
    Interesting posts, beautiful photos & design! It’s really amazing!
    Great job! I’ll be happy to see you in my blog!)

    Diana Cloudlet
    http://www.dianacloudlet.com/

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    1. Thank you so so much, that's so sweet of you :)

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  7. Food looks fab. We have one recently opened in Cheltenham and really must get my arse along soon!

    www.honeybourneline.co.uk

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  8. Yum! This looks really good. I do like Bill's too for sure, they are a good reliable chain as I have been to them all over the place and always enjoy it! xx

    Jasmin Charlotte | UK Lifestyle Blog

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    1. Yes definitely, there's few chains I rave about but this is definitely one of them!

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  9. Ooh I love Bills, I'm going to the one in Leamington Spa next week! Hoping they have that Brownie milkshake on the menu, it looks amazing! xo

    http://rachelnicole.co.uk/

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    1. Just prepare yourself for not being able to fit in dessert ;P

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  10. Looks amazing! Your photos are lovely too, are these with the new camera? I'm on a hen do in York in May so I might suggest Bills for lunch!
    Rach x
    www.lifeingeordieland.com

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    1. Yep :) This is the Nikon, I'm loving it - the quality is so much better than my old Panasonic!

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  11. Ahh I'm so upset I left Durham before Bill's opened up! Hopefully I can get there on my next visit... I still haven't been to any of their branches in London either - it's definitely on my list now!

    Etta xx
    www.thebrunchdiaries.co.uk

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    1. Gutted! Great excuse to visit though (as if you need one!) x

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  12. Bill's is a favourite, the one in Nottingham is lovely. They have so many things that I love picking is always really difficult. I love puddings and probably would have gone for what Simon did but it is definitely a sweet treat Lucy x

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    1. I really want to try the afternoon tea next, been meaning to give it a go for ages!

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  13. I can't wait to go here! It's been on my wish list since is opened on my birthday, however we couldn't make the trip!
    Agree completely that I'm glad it opened in Durham, think it'll do the city some good, plus such an amazing place to visit in general. Two birds, one stone and all that. :)
    That milkshake looks amazing! Applaud Simon for ordering a desert as well! :p

    Caroline.x
    notesfromcaroline.com

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    1. Just try and stop him ... he's like a kid in a sweet shop when he sees milkshakes on a menu!

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  14. I really like Bill's too. Mr S would also have the chocolate brownie milkshake!
    Lots of love,
    Angie

    SilverSpoon London

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