REVIEW: Bill's Produce Store, Brighton

by - March 17, 2009

Opening up Bill's for dinner is a fine idea. Lunch here in the week is nigh on impossible as it is so busy. I have never returned after my first (and only) visit had me waiting 50 minutes for my lunch order, leaving me 5 minutes to ram it down my neck like a fois gras goose whilst being surrounded by the uncontrolled squarking offspring of Hove's yummy mummies. Stressful.

The setting for dinner is fantastic as you are surrounded by gorgeous fresh produce, glittering packets of Spanish biscuits and shiny jars packed with artichokes. This was sure making me hungry.

Booking is advised as the open tables for passers-by are situated at the front of the store by the large doors which they can't/won't close so it is freezing. This place used to be a bus depot so it's not exactly insulated and dining with your coats on isn't ideal. Their current solution to this is to offer hot water bottles for your lap (yes). Also, they have rammed as many tables in as possible (cha-ching) but should have left the very front area clear, especially as those waiting are free to loom over you as you eat. Less tables and I don't know, a door you can close. Just an idea.

For our table of four we ordered the mezze plate and the Iberico chacuterie board to start. The £15.55 for the meats was a bit shocking especially when it tuned up with 4 very thin slices of each meat. But my, oh my, it was so tasty that I completely forgave the ludicrous cost of it. The bread and quality of balsamic and olive oil were top notch. The vege mezze were good too and four of us feasted like kings.

On to the mains and my companions ordered the moussaka and steak pie, both of which looked and tasted wonderful, but my main of lamb shank with a tangy Moroccan inspired stew full of plump butter beans was stunning. The meat was super tender and everything was cooked beautifully.

We were so stuffed that ordering desert at this stage bordered on the sadistic but we ordered a portion of cheesecake between us all and this turned up:

...and it tasted as good as it looked. A proper cheesecake. Not too sweet and textured. Perfect.

Bill's has had fantastic success and I like the fact that it was the brain child of a bloke called, er, Bill who ran a greengrocery on the original Lewis site. Despite my little narks about the place, the important thing is that their passion for fresh, quality produce is unquestionable, it really is a temple for foodies to worship.

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