Bill's

Restaurants, Global Holborn
  • 2 out of 5 stars
(1user review)
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The Holborn branch of Bill's. If you are looking for the unconnected restaurant run by Australian chef Bill Granger, called Granger & Co, click here.

Posted:

Venue name: Bill's
Contact:
Address: 42 Kingsway
London
WC2B 6EY
Opening hours: Open 7am-11pm Mon-Fri; 8am-11pm Sat; 8am-10.30pm Sun
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Average User Rating

2 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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Alexandra L
Tastemaker

Let me start by saying that normally, I’m a big fan of Bill’s. As somewhere dependable to go for reasonably priced, interesting food served with a smile and a nice vibe in central London, I’ve visited several branches with multiple groups of people and always had a good time…


…which is what makes my recent trip to the Holborn branch such a disappointment. Going for a friend’s birthday dinner on a recent Saturday night, we arrived bang on time to find the restaurant nowhere near full but still being asked to wait a good fifteen minutes while they got the table ready. We were seated at the back of the dining room in a space set slightly aside from the main floor which was totally fine until it got towards the end of the meal and the end of the evening and it felt a little like we’d been forgotten about. Visits by our waiter got fewer and fewer until we asked for the bill and, unlike the front half of the restaurant which seemed fairly full and buzzy as we left, there was no atmosphere at all.


The menu has recently had a branding update – really rather lovely to be fair – and a change in the dishes on offer – excellent. We all like a place that keeps some old favourites but interjects some well-done & exciting options…as long as they are actually well-done & exciting. Crab, falafel & sweet chilli doughnuts straddled the line between sounding like way too much for one plate and sounding really interesting. Turns out they were neither. There was barely a whisper of crab flavour or texture and a stingy smear of sweet chilli sauce dabbed inside what was in effect a heavy ball of falafel coated in sesame seeds added little to the dish as whole. I couldn’t find any suggestion of the dough that would make it a doughnut and apart from a nice tzatziki to accompany it, it did not set my world on fire. I get what they were going for (hello Chiltern Firehouse and your legendary savoury doughnuts) but they fell short and I had definite food envy of a friend’s crumbed halloumi sticks which were deliciously salty, meaty & chewy.


On a cold, rainy night in February, what could be nicer than the ultimate plate of comfort food – braised lamb shepherd’s pie with cheddar & mustard mash, IPA gravy, cherry tomatoes and red cabbage? Umm, quite a few things it turns out, none of which graced my plate sadly. Whilst the lamb was tender, it had very little flavour and whilst the mash was soft, it tasted of neither cheese nor mustard. A few sad cherry tomato halves baked on the top took me right back to my secondary school days and not in a cool-retro-vintage way while a small dish of red cabbage was fine but in no way as delicious or moreish as it might have been. To add insult to injury, it was an absolutely enormous portion meaning that it seemed an interminable meal to plough through.


Alright then, let’s get pudding and finish the dinner off on a high shall we? Salted caramel, apple & walnut crumble anyone? Yes please. Oh ok, I guess I’ll have a walnut free, cherry and apple crumble without the vaguest suggestion of salted caramel instead then. No, I didn’t change my order, that’s simply what arrived. Disappointed? Yes. Surprised by this point? No, not really.


Will this visit stop me from ever going to Bill’s again? Possibly not. Will it make me think twice about which one I go to, who I take and what I order? Definitely yes. There are just too many options for eating well in London and this place runs the risk of dragging the other, better branches down.