Bill’s has come a long way since it was a market café. The family business is now a sizeable chain but in Bill’s Manchester at least, you’ll still find a warm welcome, some pretty special specials and a crowd-pleasing selection of dishes that sometimes manage to deliver rather punchy flavours. You will be pleasantly surprised.
The menu isn’t particularly seasonal or ambitious but there’s something for everyone with healthy vegetarian soul bowls full of brown rice, beans, avocado and spinach amongst other wholesome gubbins, modern classics like the fish finger sandwich and steaks from the grill.
There is also a good kid’s menu which is more than just an afterthought, a brunch menu (although most of the dishes on the all-day menu have a slightly brunchy feel) and a good value set menu.
The ‘chainiest’ part of Bill’s Manchester is the décor which is so busily trying to have a zany personality, it manages to have almost none. However, there are plenty of areas where Bill’s remembers its roots. There is an unlikely generosity in the fillets of fish crammed into the fish pie, and portion sizes in general are pretty hearty. Dishes like macaroni cheese have a real cheesy oomph to them too. The specials come closest to the origins as a market café with dishes that go out of their way to celebrate fresh, seasonal produce.
A bit less one-size-fits-all head office formulae and a bit more of the real Bill’s verve and this place would be even better. Nevertheless, it’s still a reliable option that often exceeds expectations.