Umami - Review - Bill's Bistro, Bristol

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Review - Bill's Bistro, Bristol
Author: Victoria Jones

This Sunday I went out for a lovely birthday meal for one of my best friends who I haven’t seen in about a year. It was a great day, and we went to a little bistro called Bill’s Bistro, just off Clifton Triangle in Bristol.

As it was Bristol Harbour Festival last weekend too, most of the eateries in the city were packed out. Luckily we had reserved a table, and though we arrived a bit early and had to wait a few minutes our table was ready for the time we had reserved for. The decor was a mishmash of rustic and industrial, which doesn’t sound like it should work, but surprisingly does. The garlands of dried chillis, random bits of cloth and chandeliers took the cold edge off the exposed cable troughs and air vents.

There were 10 of us in total, and after looking at the menu many of our party went for the signature ‘Bill’s Burger’. As a vegetarian, I was torn between the halloumi burger and risotto. I finally decided on the risotto, though it’s not something I usually eat (I normally find it a bit of an unpleasant texture). However I will say that though most of the menu is fairly reasonably priced they do hit you with a lot of the side orders – £3.55 for a small cup of sweet potato chips for example.

The food came out quite quickly despite how packed the restaurant was – very impressed with their forward planning to deal with the increased numbers, a simple thing that so many places seem to forget. The risotto came with tomatos, rocket and smoked mozzarella – and boy was it smoky. The tomatos definitely gave it some much-needed sweetness, but I still needed to take a break after every few mouthfuls for a drink. If you love smoky food, this dish is totally for you, it was very tasty but I found it just the tiniest bit overpowering. I also had sweet potato chips on the side – I know it’s not a traditional accompaniment for risotto, but sweet potato chips are so lovely I couldn’t resist ordering them when I saw them on the menu. The wine was also gorgeous – I had the house white since I was on a budget and it was still lovely. Everyone else seemed happy with their meals, and we were all full after just a main course, it was really quality food.

Bill’s have also built a great brand – they grew from a fresh produce stall and still sell lots of lovely drinks, jams and confectionary in all their branches. The walls were full of lovely jars and bottles – very artisan and very delicious looking.

I’d definitely go back to Bill’s Bistro again (though I personally wouldn’t order the risotto again). It was tasty, good quality fare with friendly, efficient staff in a kooky setting, right up my street. I think it’s definitely more of a restaurant for breakfast or lunch than dinner though, the rustic decoration doesn’t really scream evening meal out to me.

Article by Victoria, loving scruffy leather armchairs

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