Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Bills 2, Surry Hills (Sydney)

I visited Bills a little while ago and was hesitant to write up this review because I respect the man. He started the first Bills when he was in Uni and has worked hard to be what he is today. He has three cafe's in Sydney, all of which are quite successful, he has his own international TV series, a number of highly successful cook books and is now the shiny face of Macleans Toothpaste. Not bad for a kid from Melbourne who moved to Sydney to study art.

Bill's whole franchise is based on simplicity, everything from the recipes to the design is simple. Which is what I'd heard about his food at his cafe's - simple food, done well. Well the rumours are right, it's simple food, but to put it bluntly, it was over priced and basically crap.

The Bills we visited was in Surry Hills, which is apparently similar to Melbourne's Fitzroy. To be honest, I live in Fitzroy and have never seen so many dodgy people wandering the streets as I did in Surry Hills. We sat outside, which was probably a bad idea considering.

Now to the food. I ordered Scrambled eggs with Bacon and Tomato. Just this plate totalled about $20! How was the food? Well, to begin with, cold. The eggs were literally a degree away from being too cold to eat. Admittedly, they did taste good, but they were cold all the same. The bacon, as you can see in the photo below was burnt and dry, as well as being cold too. You know how bacon gets when it's over cooked and it's all brittle and breaks apart in your mouth, it was just like that. The tomato was... well a tomato, nothing different here, apart from again... cold. I was beginning to think Bill was working on a Breakfast Salad, considering how cold everything was. To top it all off, the toast was so thick! I could barely get my mouth around it! No jokes, check out the photo! (...and cold)

Rach ordered the Ricotta hotcakes with banana and honeycomb butter. The hotcakes were floury and chewy and of course to go along with the theme of the morning, cold!!

The service at Bills wasn't much better than the food, very few smiles, very rushed and you could say, cold! One saving grace though, was the coffee. The coffee was outstanding, some of the best coffee we have ever tasted anywhere. Maybe the barrista should start cooking in the kitchen!

How can a chain of cafe's be so successful when they let food like this go out of the kitchen? Have they just become to complaisant with their own success that they don't care what their food tastes like anymore, or that it arrives at the table cold? I think Bill should start forgetting about getting his head on television and whitening his teeth and get back in the kitchen and start concentrating on making his simple food - good again!

Over-priced, Over-hyped and Cold


mellie said...

How can they get it soooo wrong? It is just so crappola that both yours and my experience of bills was pretty bad.

I too had issues with temperature and quality of food. And whilst front of house were professional, they were far from friendly or personable.

The coffee at bills darlinghurst was darn good too, and I did actually like the venue. But other than that, my coldcakes sucked.

Ange said...

As I said to Mellie, I made the hotcakes over Easter & they were excellent - - think its better to cook your own 'Bill' food than to pay him for it seems to be the popular opinion from everyone

thanh7580 said...

How can you get bacon and eggs wrong is very hard to imagine. Even an amateur like me can see that the bacon is so overdone.

Was it extremely busy that day so the waiters never got to the meals quick enough?

Probably more likely is that fame just gets to you and you start to live off a reputation rather than hard work and the standards start to slip.

Adski said...

Ange, your hotcakes look great and I bet they were hot when you ate them too!

Thanh, nope, it wasn't busy that day, it was a thursday morning, there were a few people there, but it was nothing like a rush at all.
I had heard bad things about bills before going, but chose to make up my own mind. I should have listened to what I had heard on the grapevine!

Johanna said...

I had a terrible experience at bills 2...the famous corn fritters were bloody awful - gluggy and cold. I had a big dirty brown who-knows-what on the side of my glass of oj and the coffee was burnt and terrible. Poor service capped off this I'll-never-go-back experience.

Melinda said...

Hi Adski - love both your blogs! So disappointed to hear that you had a terrible time at Bills. I love Bill's cookbooks but sounds like it's better to stick to making them at home. I've made his ricotta hotcakes, corn fritters and scrambled eggs and they're all delicious, so don't know how the chefs can get it so wrong. Bill probably doesn't have the time to be in the kitchen any more. I've never been to his cafes in Sydney but don't think I'll bother now!

Adski said...

Hey Melinda,
I have read so many terrible reviews now on this place (see don't know what I was ever thinking. I guess you try these things once and then you learn better. I'm sure there are many better cafe's in sydney worth trying.