As you know, Warriors, Mummy and Daddy Ginger Warrior came to visit me a couple of weeks ago. And as you know, since you have doubtlessly read THIS little blog post recounting the few lovely days I was in their company, Sandra and I spent a delightful morning meandering through the charming streets of Oxford. When it came to sourcing an excellent eatery for our ladies lunch my mum slipped down a side street and before I had even realised she had gone (she's pretty stealthy that one) she was back enthusiastically insisting she had found the perfect establishment.
Being one to trust my elders and my mother in particular, I agreed that she had fallen upon a choice spot. Or it could just be that a quick glance at the menu revealed a whole host of appealing dishes. In any case, up the steps we went, full of gastronomical hope.
It all got off to a promising start: we received a most congenial welcome from Charlie before being shown to our table by Casey. I instantly liked Charlie and Casey and knew we were in friendly and capable hands.
(A somewhat blurry and out of focus picture and Sandra hadn't even had any wine by this point!) ;)
I left my mum perusing the menu (it took me all of five seconds to make my choice) and had a look around. I quickly warmed to the open layout and urban vibe of the interior with its exposed plumbing.
Then there was the vibrant, grocery lined shelving offering a wide variety of Bill's own delicatessen style produce: jams and juices, truffles and teas, cookies and candies, all of which made my already rumbling tummy growl even louder.
Fortunately, before I gave into my increasing hunger pangs and bought and demolished an entire tub of chocolate and brazil nut cookies (believe me, I'm capable) our lunch was served: crab, chilli and prawn cakes for The Mother and for me, broad bean, sage and lemon risotto:
Did I mention that it tasted even better than it looked? To the extent that as I approached my last few mouthfuls I began to experience a sense of what I can only describe as mourning. "Surely she exaggerates!" I hear you exclaim. But I'm not. I really did enjoy it that much and I know I can speak on Sandra's behalf when I say that she was equally as impressed with her dish.
Thus my first visit to Bill's was a resounding success - I could fault neither food nor service. However, as we returned to the street of Oxford, bellies and hearts full, I found myself wondering: was this a fluke? A mere case of "beginner's luck"? Could Bill's live up to my now lofty expectations a second time around? There was only one way to find out.
Enter Craigy Boy and another lunch date at Bill's a mere three days later.
As tempting as it was to opt for the tried and tested risotto I realised that I needed to broaden my culinary horizons if I were to discover if Bill's produced delicious fare across the board. We didn't have to wait long to find out as our meals were promptly served: mac’n’cheese with butternut squash, spinach, mozzarella, topped with rocket and pumpkin seeds for me and chicken on a bun and a side of skin on fries for Craigy Boy.
And what do you know? Bill's did it again! Both dishes were devoured with ferocity and, quite frankly, if I hadn't been in public I would have licked my plate. In fact, I'm not really sure why I let that stop me. Completely out of character.
Not only did Bill's rise to the occasion a second time in terms of food but they also proved that they must make it policy to employ the friendliest (and beardiest) people around! And I know Lewis, for that is his name, wouldn't mind me saying that. After all, he did try to convince me that my life would be decidedly more meaningful and complete were I to buy a massive chocolate rooster. I didn't in case you were wondering.
So I was feeling pretty confident that I was onto a good thing with Bill's. But then a thought struck me: each of my two previous visits had been with adults and experienced restaurant goers. I felt in order to truly put Bill's to the test a third and crucial visit was necessary, with someone who was not an adult, not an experienced restaurant goer and who was somewhat more... picky, shall we say, when it comes to mealtimes.
Enter three year old goddaughter Tilly-Mae and a third lunch date at Bill's in the space of a week.
With sausages being the food of choice for this little lady one option stood out above the rest:
While we waited for the food to arrive Charlie kindly ensure that TM was occupied.
Not that we had long to wait.
I posted this very picture on Facebook for TM's mum to see and she responded:
To which I smugly replied:
And she really did which surely is the ultimate testament to the food served at Bill's.
And so impressed was Casey with Tilly Mae's empty plate and no doubt due to the fact that she is undeniably adorable, he presented her with a bag of Bill's chocolate caramel drops which were VERY gratefully received by both goddaughter and Aunt. Well, I can't have her eating all of that chocolate by herself, would be most irresponsible of me..
Now you would think with three successful visits under my by now slightly tighter belt my review of Bill's would be complete. But you know me, Warriors, if I do something I don't leave any stone unturned, no avenues unexplored. Thus...
Enter Craigy Boy and a BREAKFAST date yesterday morning, Sunday 22nd March.
Yes indeedy, the breakfast menu had caught my eye during my visit with Tilly-Mae and I felt compelled to partake if I were to publish an honest, frank and fully comprehensive review. Both Craigy and I commented that there was not a single item on the the breakfast menu that did not appeal in one way or another but after much hemming, hawing, discussion and deliberation we made our choices.
No disappointment, regret or remorse with our choices, merely two very full and satisfied customers. Again.
Following my fourth visit to Bill's I finally feel that I am in the position to give an informed, detailed, fair and square review and that is what I hope I have done. I genuinely cannot find fault with any aspect of the food or service and that is why I am already planning my fifth visit with a specific aim in mind: to find out if the desserts live up to the mains!!
And the really, really good news is, and I wasn't aware of this until I went online, that there are Bill's throughout the entire country which means there is bound to be one not too far from you. There is even one opening in Glasgow on March 30th, the first one in Scotland! To find the Bill's nearest to you click right HERE.
So thank you Bill's, but more specifically thank you Charlie, Casey, Lewis, Natalie, Jess and all the other fabulously friendly, helpful and attentive staff over at my nearest Bill's in Oxford. Expect many more subsequent visits from The Ginger Warrior. I believe I have a chocolate rooster with my name on it.
GW, over and out.