Saturday, 28 June 2014

Bill's - Norwich

2-10 Back of the Inns

Breakfast served
Monday to Friday
8am till midday

8am till 1pm

Sunday (and bank holidays)
9am till 1pm

I had visited Bill's in Brighton, this one had just opened in Norwich, my expectations were high  

 The interior was great and the place had a nice vibe

 The till area was a hive of activity most of the time making it tricky to discreetly take photos!

Breakfast with all the extras and a drink isn't cheap, click here for the breakfast menu 

A nice little cluster of things but what is Bag O' Bills? 

It's a bag with a list of supplies you can order and collect at the end.

A small cappuccino costs £2.30  

The tea arrives in a pot with Bill's teabags

 I was delighted when the beautifully arranged breakfast arrived, disappointment soon set in though..

Over cooked chewy bacon

 Tiny sausages and rubbery eggs

Good bean juice reduction was at least one good point 

 My wife went for the veggie breakfast, she started off really impressed but the strange tasting mushrooms soon ruined it for her

My wife won't eat guacamole so I ate it instead, it was pretty good!

 I shared some crispy potato with my wife, without a doubt the highlight of this disappointing breakfast.

A good will gesture given to my wife after complaining about her mushrooms, a nice touch!

A big bill for such a disappointing breakfast..

In April 2011 I visited Bill's in Brighton and have fond memories of the impressive breakfast experience, read about it here. Over three years after that visit and I discover that Bill's are opening a restaurant in Norwich. Thoughts went through my mind about them possibly becoming the first chain in Norwich to earn a recommended sticker. I wondered how a chain could possibly get around displaying such a sticker in their window, they probably couldn't as head office and the procedures manual wouldn't allow. The sticker I had sent to the Brighton branch never got put up so I imagine it would be the same thing here. With all these thoughts going through my head I decided that I would first need to visit to see if the breakfast I discovered in Brighton was as good in Norwich. With so many amazing independent Norwich cafes serving stunning breakfasts was Bill's about to be added to this list too? I headed there with my wife to find out...

Upon entering - The restaurant covers two floors, I didn't venture upstairs but I could see there was plenty of seating downstairs so the entire seating capacity must be quite high. The modern/industrial look worked well and with many of the tables cordoned off into smaller booths it ensured your own little space to enjoy a meal here. Each table has a small metal bucket containing cutlery and a "Bag O' Bills" (use it to place an order of Bill's products which can be collected at the end) There is also a jar of sugar cubes and tiny salt and pepper pots, the salt and pepper pots looked great but trying to find them on a full table when the food had arrived was quite tricky! So a nice environment to dine in with full table service that has a good vibe and feels quite relaxing, the transformation here to turn it into a restaurant has certainly worked well. 8/10

Service - The staff serving here have been trained well, the service is impressive and friendly. We were shown to a table as soon as we arrived, moments later our drinks order was taken and shortly after that the food order was placed. My wife can't stand avocados and decided not to have the guacamole, I was up for having it though and they were happy to serve it on a separate plate and give it to me. The drinks arrived first and the food arrived in good time shortly after that, we were offered sauces and the ketchup was brought over. Towards the end we were asked if everything was ok, my wife explained that the mushrooms (her favourite breakfast item) tasted strange and she couldn't eat them. A few minutes later the bill arrived along with a complimentary large bar of Bill's chocolate to leave a sweet taste in her mouth, nice touch and appreciated! 9/10

Contents - 2 tiny sausages, 3 slices of smoked streaky bacon, 2 slices of black pudding, 2 fried eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms, beans and 2 slices of toast. 8/10

Presentation - The breakfast looked amazing when it arrived with everything neatly organised in layers on top of the sourdough. The small garnish on top of the bacon worked well and the plate used was the perfect shape to accommodate the extras of beans and black pudding. The mushrooms and sausages were fairly hidden under other items but this was a nice surprise once you found them. The fact everything looked like it had been held longer than it should have at the pass was clearly evident though.. 7/10

The food - The tiny sausages were the same as the ones I had eaten in Brighton back in 2011, they seemed ok back then but this time I was pretty unimpressed, it was certainly no Archers! Each one was little more than a mouthful and was lightly seasoned with the texture of a tinned hot dog sausage. The bacon would most likely been pretty amazing had it been eaten earlier, sadly the delay at the pass had left it chewy and tough. The eggs had suffered the same fate as the bacon and this had resulted in rubbery whites and a yolk that looked runny but was in fact solid towards the bottom. The toast was ok and the tomatoes flavoursome with a tasty basil garnish. The black pudding was fairly standard but quite dry and the mushrooms alright (my wife's mushrooms tasted really strange though and totally different to mine, a bit of a mystery!?) The highlight of this breakfast was the crispy potato I tried that my wife had ordered and the beans in a nice, well reduced sauce. To sum up though a really disappointing breakfast that had taken too long to arrive at the table from being plated up, had it spent less time in transit the score would have been much higher but as it stands.. 4/10

Value for money - The Bills breakfast with beans and black pudding as extras and a cappuccino cost £12.75, a 10% optional service charge (I don't recall being given an option though!) bumps the bill up even further. Such a high price for a disappointing breakfast left me feeling fairly gloomy for sometime afterwards.. 3/10

Veggie option - 2 poached eggs, hummous, tomatoes, mushrooms, guacamole, sweet chilli sauce, basil and toast - £7.95

Overall - A lovely looking restaurant with friendly efficient staff, sadly on this occasion the food let it down and because of the high price tag this left me feeling dissapointed. Norwich has so many amazing independent cafes serving stunning breakfasts, chains need to be offering so much better than this to stand out from the crowd. 6.5/10


  1. Three of us eat there this evening - we had a much better meal than yours by the sound of it! Service and venue were excellent (there is a LOT of room upstairs, as they've also spread into the space above GAME on the corner - it's massive!). The food was very good, one slight quibble with the nachos was that they were over-seasoned. When we mentioned this we were told we wouldn't be charged ("why should you pay for something you didn't like?". An extra portion of sweet potato fries also appeared with the main courses as a 'sorry'. Quality of food was high, so I wonder if you were (very) unlucky. Not contradicting anything you've said, of course - perhaps a different chef in the morning?

    1. It could well have been a different chef, the high price of this breakfast ensures I will probably never return to find out though.

  2. The "Bag O'Bill's" concept is enough to deter me. Aimed at the tourist trade rather than discerning locals I reckon.

  3. I beg to differ. I am a local. I had breakfast and it was great. The bag o bills caught my eye and I bought the jam we had had with outlr breakfast. Much better than any jam I could have bought at tesco. The restaurant has only just opened and as with any new opening there are always teething problems. A rerurn visit should be done to really give a fair review.

    1. I will certainly return again in 6 months to be fair, I feel sure they must have had training prior to opening though regarding the time a breakfast should sit before making it to the customers table. Be sure to look at my review of Bills in Brighton to see how the score increases when a decent breakfast is served.

  4. "breakfast that had taken too long to arrive at the table from being plated up" - We independently came to similar conclusions when we blogged our visit to Bills in Cambridge - check Cambridge Breakfast blog:

  5. had a great brekkie there with my husband on the 12th Sept, he had the full English and it was really good I agree the sausage was a little on the small side but I feel that it was a case of quality over quantity as it was really yummy. bacon was just right for both of us as we like our bacon cooked like that so I guess its down to personal taste. I liked the fact then when you were given sauce you get a full bottle of proper tommyk not just a silly pot. I had scrambled eggs on toast with bacon and it was delicious, eggs were soft and bacon just right. we have told all our friends about it and will be going again.