Bill’s Produce Store – 3 Times

3 Mar

As full of shops and eateries as central London is, there seems to be a lack of affordable and nice places to eat. Or if there are any affordable and nice places, I don’t know of them and please enlighten me. There are about three places I visit repeatedly when I am in the area and armed with chomping gnashers because I know of nowhere else that I can be filled with rather pleasant nosh for under £10. So I was pleased when I was recommended Bill’s Produce Store which had just opened in Covent Garden.

It looks like a mixture of restaurant and local produce shop, which of course it isn’t, because where would you get local produce in central London that wasn’t an E number. Never the less I do like that sort of vibe as it is casual and friendly. I decided to try it out with my friend Kate after watching a selection of awfully pretentious and just plain awful short films. After that experience I needed to eat something comforting to reassure me that life is better than that. We checked out the menu in the window and I was pleased to see bubble and squeak with bacon and eggs and hollandaise. Oh yes.

Bill’s was full to the brim with diners so we had a few minutes wait till we got a table. I got really irritated by a waiter who kept turning people away at the door and then cockily informed his lovely fellow waitress that ‘the point is they didn’t want to wait’ which was so not true as he didn’t even suggest it. Grrr.

Anyway, just a couple of minutes later and we were seated at a table with menus propped up in front of us. I was quick to order the bubble and squeak accompanied by a bloody mary and Kate was eager to have the same but with a different alcoholic tipple. Service was speedy and we received our food merely seconds after our drinks had arrived.

I couldn’t have ordered anything more perfect for my present situation. Two fried eggs looking up at me, begging me to start eating straight away and I was happy to oblige. After my first bite I was quick to forget all the dross I had to endure in the morning as I could do nothing but savour the exquisite mix of flavours and textures. The bubble and squeak had a crisp exterior and was soft and comforting inside. The bacon added meatiness and a bit of chew to the ensemble. All this coated by the yolk from the perfectly cooked eggs and of course the glorious coating of hollandaise with just enough of a kick to cut through the smoothness of it all.

I was so impressed with this meal I went back the next week with my friend Dan for a snack before my dinner. On this occasion Bill’s was practically empty so we tucked ourselves into an intimate corner. This did mean we were forgotten at times, but our waitress was so lovely I didn’t mind. Dan went for a full english and I opted for a classic cheese and ham toastie. This was accompanied by some cheap rouge that did taste very cheap but I was not one to complain.

My toastie was quite enjoyable, but it did include a tomato chutney that I felt was an unnecessary addition, especially because it included sultanas. The feeling of my teeth biting on a sultana has the same effect on me like nails on a blackboard does to others. After that unfortunate discovery I had to spend a minute picking them all out.  Although not as successful as my first visit, I was still happy and looked forward to when I would next have a chance to eat there.

That chance came sooner as I thought as Kate decided to relive her good time at Bill’s as a way of celebrating her birthday. They are happy to accommodate large bookings and I was very happy to be part of it. I was so hungry I could have eaten the person next to me. I could barely sit up in my seat the hunger pangs were so strong. I ordered salmon with hollandaise sauce (obv) and waited. And waited. I had to chew on the celery stick from my bloody mary to keep me from fainting.

My main course finally arrived, or should I say STARTER. It was tiny! I am aware that because of how hungry I was I did eat very quickly, but all the same, I should not have finished my meal before everyone else had theirs on the table. It was literally gone in 60 seconds and I was nowhere near satisfied. The entire dish was average, something I could have quickly knocked up at home, and such a miniscule portion I felt cheated of my money. When it came to ordering puddings I made sure I asked how big each dessert was, the waitress literally showing me with her hands. From her visual examples I decided the pavlova was the most sensible option.

Again, the pavlova was nothing special. Just meringue and cream, some tasteless strawberries and a pointless drizzle of chocolate sauce. Of course that didn’t stop me from finishing my neighbour’s portion. While contributing to Bill’s bill my stomach was still asking for something more. Luckily on the journey home I remembered I had a packet of mini eggs in my bag.

Bill’s – what can I make of you? Our relationship started off so well and seems to have diminished in a pathetic puff of smoke. I’ll probably be returning, but as I have learnt, if it ain’t broke do not order anything else. Bubble and squeak it will be, over and over again.


St Martin’s Courtyard off Long Acre, London, WC2E 9AB

4 Responses to “Bill’s Produce Store – 3 Times”

  1. Frances March 3, 2011 at 4:59 pm #

    Is this the same Bill’s that they have in Brighton?

    • girlinpearls March 3, 2011 at 6:23 pm #

      It is indeed. Never been to that one though x.

  2. miss south March 14, 2011 at 4:33 pm #

    I’ve had a similar rocky path with Bill’s. Fairly mediocre service, lovely atmosphere, atrocious desserts and small portions.

    The bubble and squeak was off the day I went. I’m still sulking. The fish finger sarnie was tasty, but again not much of it for the price!

    I’d go back though. Lots of space to sit around and drink tea unlike just about everywhere else in Covent Garden!

    • girlinpearls March 14, 2011 at 4:53 pm #

      The bubble and squeak was off!? That definitely would be the last straw for me.

      I agree with you though, it is a good place to sit down with a cup of cha.

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