Why Bill’s Canterbury is a staple high street favourite perfect for celebrations
Over the past ten years, Bill’s has rapidly become a high street favourite. Sitting resplendently on Canterbury’s Rose Lane, the restaurant has effortlessly become the go-to place for brunch, lunch, dinner and cocktails. The ultimate fail-safe, with Bill’s you know you are getting great service, good food and delish drinks – that’s why when it came to a low-key-celebratory-engagement-catch-up-with-friends, insideKENT’s Olivia thought of nowhere else.
With the happy clatter of a busy restaurant and uplifting chatter of diners as they clink their glasses together, the buzzy atmosphere of Bill’s is one firmly established before our party of three set foot inside the restaurant. A neat collection of tables take up the squared-off section of highstreet outside Bill’s doors – shaded by giant umbrellas and hedged in with leafy green plants – the sanctuary of Bill’s Canterbury starts here. Inside, an almost Romanesque interior sets the scene, a tiled floor, heavy velvet curtains, hints of gold and more plants grace the decor, while a prettily glittering bar takes up the entirety of one wall. A scene that oozes Bacchanalian joy, this is somehow mixed with an air of Victorian English glasshouse, with plants and potted herbs scattered throughout the place.
A wonderfully friendly yet professional front of house shows us to our table, which although is sectioned off and intimate, still absorbs the lively atmosphere of the restaurant and is nothing like a diner-style booth. Despite being a high street favourite and chain restaurant, Bill’s still effortlessly manages to retain the identity of an upmarket, special occasion restaurant – the ideal place for celebrating milestones or any happy occasion. We start our own special occasion celebration with an obligatory cocktail – of which Bill’s has a beautiful array to suit all tastes. As it’s lunchtime and I am a salty-savoury lover, I select a classic: a Bloody Mary. Concocted from Wyborowa Vodka, Big Tom Spicy Tomato Juice and celery, this packs a spicy punch and goes down an absolute treat – the perfect start to this midday meal.
We go in for a starter each: for me the smoked salmon paté. This comes whipped with cream cheese and lemon and is served with toasted flatbread. Beautifully creamy, it has delicate flavours of smoked salmon, the smokiness of which is perfectly offset with that ‘creaminess’ of the cheese. The flatbread is soft and fluffy and works as a great solid savoury bolster for the distinctiveness of the paté. Next up are the mains, for which I select the watermelon and feta salad. Considering myself somewhat of a salad connoisseur, this salad is up there with some of the best I’ve had. The ultimate dream flavour ratio of sweet and savoury, the salty dairy flavour of the crumbly feta works with the sweet fruitiness of the watermelon like an absolute dream, and with the crunchy added tang of the red onions and leafy green freshness of the salad leaves, the whole dish is taken to luscious new levels of flavour and texture. Salad sublimity.
After this guilt-free main, I happily settle for an indulgent dessert. Keeping with the theme of sweet meets savoury, I choose the chocolate and salted caramel tart served with coconut ice cream. As expected, this delectable little dessert is packed full of flavour. Indulgently chocolatey, its richness is perfectly offset by the saltiness of the caramel and savouriness of the biscuit tart. Complementing this even further is the creamy coconut ice cream, which adds a tropical edge to this dish while still keeping it rich and indulgent.
A celebration of a friends’ engagement, we finish this meal with a final ‘cheers’, not of anything fizzy, but another stunning cocktail, this time a picante margarita. Concocted from Olmeca Altos Plata Tequila and served over ice with fresh citrus and spicy chilli rim, this is a wonderful nod to the botanical side of Bill’s persona. A tiny bit of sweetness, mildly bitter, a seriously fresh kick of spice and a whisper of smoke, this is everything a good picante should be – the ultimate toast to a special occasion. Bill’s is, without question, the one to always rely on for great drinks, gorgeous food and good times.