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Bill's is a safe bet

With the snow sashaying down from the skies as quickly as I was scrunching up wasted bets at the races on Saturday, I was in need of a cheer me up. And at the same time something that would keep Mrs NBY happy given Valentine's Day is fast approaching.

After quickly dismissing any aspirations that I was going to stretch to a taxi, we were whisked into Town aboard the glamorous Kennet and District number 9 before skipping through the wet streets of Newbury and making our way in to the sanctuary of Bill's Restaurant.

It's been three years since Bill's Restaurant first opened its doors on us in the Market Square, heralding a wave of chain eateries setting up shop in Newbury.

The wooden clad interior that has anyone fearing a splinter walking like a crab, has a relaxed environment with a mixtures of booths, couples seating as well as tables to both the front and rear of the restaurant for those hazy summer days.

Having had a few drinks to get me through the emotion of losing on the horses, we quickly settled down and decided to continue with the theme, sampling one of their amazing cocktails. The Hedgerow Fizz with its prosecco and elderflower combo was the perfect drink to remove the taste of any Russian spirits that appeased my earlier bitterness.

One of the first things you notice about Bill's is the size of the menu. Having watched many Gordon Ramsay shows, he always goes on about how it's best to keep the menu short, simple and specialised. So it is with surprise that somehow Bill's has, so far anyway, managed to deliver without any grumbles.

Everytime we have eaten at Bill's is like something that could have been cooked up on the hob at your mums. With its subtle flavours that are simple and effective, avoiding any unnecessary ingredients and faff, Bill's continued to score top marks with its simple potato and rosemary bread that was torn to pieces in an Oliver Twist fashion.

The biggest surprise of the night had to be the crab, falafel and sweet chilli doughnuts. Expecting the traditional doughnut, I was surprised and must say very impressed by the sesame seed crusted case that wrapped itself round a crab and falafel ball. Once you got through to the centre of the doughnut, a thumbnail size chilli sauce was sitting waiting like a Cheshire cat. I smiled back at my doughnut in appreciation not expecting anything like that.

The bar continued to be raised as we moved into the main courses, which consisted of a delicious buttermilk chicken burger and a south Indian fish curry that was made up cod, prawn and coconut curry, sugar snap peas, coriander chutney and basmati rice with warm piadina bread. Both sat above the £10 mark, which is a reasonable cut off mark for a main course, but were still of the highest standard and worth that extra two or three pounds each.

Having wished I had put on the elasticated trousers, we decided that it would be more romantic and better for our waist lines if we shared a pudding. After some mulling we went for the lemon meringue pie cheesecake in a glass. This dish featuring yoghurt ice cream to help tone down some the acid lemons was the perfect end to the evening at Bill's Restaurant.

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