Bill’s on Gandy Street, Exeter has recently undergone a bit of a refurbishment. Goodbye partition walls piled high with jams and chutneys and hello colonial Caribbean/1930’s speakeasy. Plush velvet banquette seating, lush green palms and sparkling chandeliers create the most wonderful setting that is so “on point” at the moment. I have to admit, the new decor ticks all the boxes for me.Bill’s since the refurb. Steve and I visited a couple of months ago. Unfortunately, it was disappointing. Always willing to give a place a second chance we headed back. This time though things seemed to have turned around. The attentive but not overbearing staff greeted us with a smile and showed us to our window-side table. Drinks ordered, Steve a Bill’s IPA and for myself a cold glass of Pinot Grigio we pondered the menu.
We decided on sharing a couple of starters before the main event. A retro-sounding prawn cocktail and a personal favourite of mine, calamari. The breaded calamari served piping hot straight from the fryer was crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. The addition of finely sliced red chilli and garlic aioli added a real “zing” to the dish. I would highly recommend.
In contrast, the prawn cocktail was a little lacklustre. I was hoping for an old school, retro favourite from my childhood; cold crispy iceberg with juicy prawns in a Marie Rose sauce piled high in a glass with a lemon wedge. Instead, it was served flat on a plate with home-fried tortilla chips. It just didn’t work for me visually, and texturally it was all a little limp. The crunch of the 80’s lettuce of choice being replaced by delicate shredded baby gem. Put this alongside avocado, a few king prawns and not enough Marie Rose sauce it made for quite a boring dish, unfortunately.
Our second choice was simple but delicious. Coconut ice cream served with a mango coulis. What’s more, it was vegan. It’s worth mentioning here that there are a number of dishes on the menu suitable for vegans and those with intolerances. Ask your server for more information.
You can find Bill’s, Exeter at 32-33 Gandy Street, EX4 3LS. For bookings head to their website or telephone 01392 259227.
Disclaimer; I was invited to Bill’s, Exeter to sample their summer menu. I was not paid for the post and all views are my own as always.