Review of Breakfast & Dinner at Bills in Surry Hills
The first time I saw a Bills restaurant was actually in Hawaii, and before that I had never heard of the Bills institution before (I may be in the minority there). But upon doing more research, I discovered how big Bills actually was and it shot straight to the top of my list of ‘food places I want to try’ – I specifically wanted to try their famous ricotta hotcakes, because I love a good cafe hotcake (and a good maccas hotcake too).
DINNER (scroll down for Breakfast review)
The first opportunity I had to visit Bills was for dinner.The restaurant itself is a pretty tight squeeze, especially if you’re sitting along the window, but nonetheless it was pretty, contemporary and open plan.
Unfortunately, the hotcakes which I wanted to try were not on the dinner menu so I went ahead to order the Tumeric Chicken. I thought their menu was rather strangely set out and wasn’t sure whether the ‘bowls’, ‘plates’ and ‘bbq’ distinctions were really helpful. The chicken was flavoured really well and tasted a bit like curry paste. However, I did find the chicken a bit pink, thus was hesitant to each some parts. There was an overly-generous serving of coriander, whilst the ‘asian slaw’ was literally raw shaved zucchini and radish, spiced with chilli flakes, which I was not a fan of. Sure, it was a nice break from the chicken but raw zucchini in such great pieces and dry wasn’t very appealing.
What saved my dinner were the sweet potato fries. I really felt a lacking of carbs on the chicken dish, and these fries were really crispy and delicious. I would rate it up there on the best sweet potato fries in Sydney.
My dinner buddy had the prawn and chilli linguine. When this came, it looks like a really sad dish. It looks bland and plain. Eating it … not much had changed in my opinion. There was no flavour in the meal apart from a light kick of chilli. The pasta was soft and was not worth $24.50 for what seemed like a meal that could’ve been made at home for less than $10. (A bit harsh, I know, but it really didn’t do anything for me).
The best thing about dinner was their dessert, which was a brown sugar pavlova with rhubarb. The meringue in this pav was a great texture – soft and gooey on the inside with a nice crisp crust. I loved the combination of cream, pistachios and rhubarb, to create a sophisticated and tasty spin to a classic dessert. This is what I expected of Bills in general but only dessert delivered.
I had a second chance to go to Bills – this time for breakfast! I was super excited because dinner had disappointed me and this was a chance for the ricotta hotcakes to do their job and re-earn my faith in Bills. (To cut the story short, it did nothing for me either and I would not return to Bills for breakfast, lunch or dinner). Make sure you get there early on busy brunch days. I especially noticed a lot of tourists during breakfast time as opposed to dinner.
Yes, the hotcakes were good, but was there any reason for it to be famous? No. It was fluffy at first but got dry very quickly. The ricotta could hardly be noticed in the hotcakes. The best thing about this was the butter with melted caramel (or toffee?) inside, although you still needed syrup.
I also ordered a savoury dish – the fresh aussie. For $26, I wanted to really enjoy my breakfast. It came with salmon ‘gravlax’, poaches eggs, kale, avo, tomatoes and toast. Nicely seasoned kale and nice gravlax, but in the end, they were simple ingredients arranged on a plate. Could not justify $26 for this dish.
The last thing I tried from Bills was their homemade almond macadamia milk spiced chai. It was quite a special drink, one i’ve never seen anywhere else. I did appreciate the homemade part of it but, as it was using nut milk, was quite watery and the chai was very spiced. Take that how you will – if you like your chai tea, then you’ll enjoy this but if you enjoy milky chai lattes, you probably wont.
Overall, I wanted Bills to be so good but it did not deliver for breakfast or lunch. The saving dishes – pavlova and sweet potato fries – are simply not enough to win my heart or get me to come back, especially when prices are so premium.