Bill's restaurant has recently reopened following a refurbishment in the Bullring and feels light and airy with a stylish mix of vintage chic and modern freshness. Along with wallpaper of fruits and flowers, there are also posters of birds dotted around alongside other distinctive furnishings that give the restaurant a touch of retro charm.
The restaurant sits in an ideal position in Birmingham city centre, overlooking St Martin's Church with seats outside as well to enjoy the view, which is particularly good on a sunny day. Plus it's just steps away from the stores for shoppers who want to enjoy a lunch break on a shopping day out.
Founded by a Sussex greengrocer called Bill - Bill Collison to be exact - the restaurant chain has a relaxed atmosphere but feels special enough for an occasion meal or night out.
Bill's is located in a handy place for shoppers or evening diners
With his greengrocer roots, Bill has made sure that there are plenty of vegetarian options on the menu. During my visit, we tried a veggie starter of rosemary, pea hummus and garlic sourdough, which came with shaved raw rainbow carrot, courgette pieces, fennel and mixed seeds. It was beautifully presented and full of flavour.
Similar to a flatbread, the ingredients were dotted along the sourdough and provided a good mix of flavours that merged well together.
Other starters included crispy feta and watermelon salad and pea and watercress soup with toasted focaccia but we opted to also share a plate of chicken and sesame dumplings that came with Bill's spicy chutney. Similar to a Japanese gyoza dumpling in style, these were deliciously rich in flavour, although not overly spicy.
Moving on to the main course, there is again a varied range of options with meat, fish or those suitable for vegetarians; all with a slight twist on British and Mediterranean traditional favourites. Choices like paprika, garlic and chilli roasted half chicken that comes with fries and pea shoots or crab and courgette risotto cooked in a smoky tomato stock with chives and plum tomato.
We plumped for the pan-fried seabass with a herb rosti and an avocado, cherry tomato and caper salsa along with a vegetarian main of carrot, mushroom and cashew nut wellington.
The seabass was beautifully cooked and delicately placed with the bright green avocado salsa on top in an artistic fashion. The rosti was hidden underneath to provide a delicious concoction of flavours that all felt comforting.
A good combination of flavours was involved too for the wellington that was hearty and came with butterbean mash, long stem broccoli and vegetable gravy.
There was a hint of good old fashioned grub about this dish as it was served on a vintage chintz plate alongside a gravy boat.
There's a wide range of desserts on offer too that again are a twist on old favourites. There's lemon meringue pie in a glass that involves a kind of deconstructed lemon meringue that has lemon curd cheesecake alongside lemon sorbet, crushed biscuits and Italian meringue on top.
The Eton mess gets a tropical makeover with mango and passion fruit while the humble doughnut is lifted to have strawberry sugar dusted over them and accompanied with fresh strawberries and warm white chocolate sauce. Then there is the apple and salted caramel crumble.
Along with the hearty food, the long bar at the centre of the restaurant also prides itself on supplying a good range of cocktails to suit every taste.
What was clear from the meal was that Bill's knowledge of food has transferred into his restaurants so that he provides the highest quality ingredients for diners.
Bill's restaurants also pride themselves on saying they are "warm and welcoming" and there was an obvious emphasis on providing friendly and attentive service by the waiting staff from the moment we came through the door.
There was never long to wait between ordering and the food turning up, plus the dishes always turned up in the highest quality and beautifully presented.
Bill's also offers good value for money as there are regular set menu deals for lunch or dinner that can be found from £12.95 for two courses of £15.95 for three courses, weekdays from noon to 5pm, or £17.50 and £20.50 respectively for dinner specials in the week from 5pm onwards.
What Bill's offers is unchallenging, tasty and hearty favourites with a slight twist that make you feel thoroughly content.
What's more, the revamped surroundings add to the appeal of Bill's in Birmingham as along with the good view and great food there is now also a stylish ambience setting the scene.