Earlier this week I was invited to Bills Restaurant on Queen Street in Nottingham to take a tour of their newly revamped restaurant and try some new dishes.
I love Bills, the food is always really good, there is always a good atmosphere and the surroundings have always been really cool. Previously it was very industrial with exposed pipework and bare walls, but all this changed at the end of June.
Gone is the industrial feel, replaced by a tropical paradise. With a lovely bright orange canopy surrounded by flowers on the entrance, to luscious green plants, flowery wallpaper and the bar is now a deep grass green.
They have revamped the seating, with larger areas and cosy booths for groups and I think they have added additional seating outside for when the sun decides to pop out to play.
There is also a private dining room with room for 60 guests, the perfect area to celebrate with family or work colleagues.
We were given a sample menu to order from, however I did peek at the main menu and some of my favourite dishes (like the mini Cumberland sausages have thankfully stayed!).
The sample menu consisted of 4 starters, 4 mains and 4 desserts that we could choose from. The menu seemed to focus more on fresh ingredients than previous menus and of the 4 starters 2 were vegan. I love when restaurants give as much care and attention to vegan and veggie dishes as they do for meaty ones.
The cocktails are always great at Bills and I went for the raspberry and rose collins, a summery cocktail of gin, rose liqueur, raspberry, cloudy apple and soda. Delicious. My friend decided to go for the non alcoholic peach, elderflower and rosemary cooler and said it was delicious too.
For starter I opted for the Rosemary, pea hummus and garlic sourdough. It was an array of fresh shaved raw rainbow carrots, courgette and fennel with a sprinkling of mixed seeds thrown on too, with an avocado base and leafy greens. It was delicious. It has been a hot day and I fancied something fresh and healthy and this certainly delivered. My friend chose the chicken and sesame dumplings with spicy chutney. I stole one from her and it was really tasty, nicely packed with meat and the sauce was tangy and warming.
For mains we both went for the paprika, chilli and garlic half roast chicken with fries and greenery. The chicken is then finished with an onion, parsley and lemon dressing. Yes this is basically roast chicken and chips but it was bloody lovely. The chicken was really succulent and the flavours seeped into every part of the chicken. The skin kind of caramelised and had a sweet, sticky flavour to it, To be honest, it looked so good and I was so distracted that I just dived right in without remembering to take a photo. Thankfully I realised halfway through and quickly snapped this one, but I have added the photo from the PR company too so that you can see what it should look like!
The one thing that let this sample menu (and the main menu down if I am honest) is the lack of vegan options. Now as you know, I am by no means vegan but I am lactose intolerant and try to stay as far away from dairy as I possibly can. The dessert menu sounds incredible and I really wanted the hazelnut praline sphere or the melting banoffee sundae but couldn’t for obvious reasons. Of the 8 delicious sounding desserts, the only one I could choose was either a vegan coconut ice cream or lemon sorbet. It is now 2019, there are SO MANY amazing vegan desserts on the market and this just inst acceptable in my opinion. Bills used to do a chocolate fondant dessert suitable for vegans that was lovely, but for some reason they have removed this from the menu and failed to replace it. thankfully there was one solitary one left in the kitchen and they allowed me to have it but I really think that there should be more options. This is the only criticism I can give to an otherwise lovely menu, but I think it is an important one.
Overall, disregarding the lack of vegan desserts, the menu is lovely. Fresh, summery and tasty, and with all starters hovering around the £7 mark and all mains coming in at under £15 (excluding the sirloin and rib eye steaks) it is great value for money. The staff at the Nottingham restaurant are fantastic in both service and when it comes to dietary requirements and the venue is full of atmosphere and now incredibly pretty to look at. If Bills sort out the lack of vegan/dairy free desserts, this would probably be my favourite chain restaurants in Nottingham.
*I was invited to dine for free to sample the new menu, all thoughts are, as always, my own.