Situated in the old Leedy Hotel, Bill’s Bar and Bites has transformed a venue which I blearily remember from my late teens as a hangover inducing Wednesday night hot spot. It’s bright, airy and offers a great exposed brick look that we all wish we could get away with in our houses. Last time I ate here it was a fun dinner with lots of other bloggers, but it was also when I had my old Nikon and looking at the photos, they’re quite embarrassingly dark! It was actually that dinner that cemented in my mind the need to upgrade – which I promptly did a couple days later.
With my Canon in hand, returning to Bill’s during the day promised much greater snaps and also the opportunity to try the food in a non-official setting. I always love seeing if the food lives up to the highs you experience when invited compared to a return undercover.
The staff here are friendly and easy to chat to, and I’m pleased to see Chef Damien who was our great host last time at the dinner. The vibe is relaxed, which is just what you want for a public holiday though I am surprised seeing as The Meatball Bar and Pinchos are jam-packed. I wonder if most people just aren’t aware that there’s some good food right across the road?
Taking it easy is just what we’re after so we take our time to pour through the menu before going up to the bar to place our orders and pay. The menu is a series of tapas-ish dishes with some larger options but is essentially designed to share. Definitely the style of dining I enjoy as I like to try a bit of everything.
It doesn’t take more than 15 minutes for our food to start coming out which is great because I’m starving! First up to hit our table is the duck and manchego cheese cigars with green tomato relish ($6.00 each).
For me, these are one of the best things on Bill’s menu. Crunchy, shattering spring roll pastry encases shredded duck meat and flavoursome manchego cheese. They’re so moorish, so salty and addictive. They teeter on the line of being over seasoned but for my palate they’re on the money – they keep me coming back for bite after bite. Simple. And delicious.
The pulled pork with young gun condiments ($12.00) is bright and cheerful, covered in a vivid red tomato sauce with slivers of onion. Pulled pork is something that we’ve tried so many different versions, plus make at home and usually we gravitate towards your smokey, deeply flavoured versions rather than saucy ones – but that’s just our own personal style.
That said, Bill’s pulled pork has meat that’s juicy and tender. We find the sauce a little too sweet for our tastes but on the plus side it’s great to see the abundance of fresh, vibrant herbs over the top and the crunch of the sweet onion.
The grilled bread is a really cheap add on ($2.00) that we’re recommended to order – and happily follow do so. I sometimes can get really frustrated when restaurants charge over inflated prices for bread, so I’m really pleased to see that Bill’s is keeping it honest and fair to their customers. These are things that customers can really appreciate!
The ceviche with avocado, tomato and chilli ($12.00) is bright, with lovely fresh fish that’s complimented by the other textures in the bowl. This version is like a cross between guacamole and ceviche which gives it a point of difference and an almost salad like feel.
I would have preferred for the jalapeños to be a finer dice rather than chunky slices, but this is a personal thought whereas I know the boy doesn’t mind either way. I love the citrus flavour in this dish but the boy comments that he finds the lemon overpowering, and we both agree there’s a lot of juice at the bottom of the bowl making the dish just a little too runny.