Review of the Set Dinner Menu at Bill’s Reading.
Let me start by saying that a review of the Dinner Set Menu at Bill’s is a bit misleading. There are five starters, six mains and four desserts – plus an assortment of specials. There are veggie and vegan options at each stage and an extra bonus that if you order two dinner set menu meals you get a bottle of house wine for £12. So you don’t feel as if you are dining from a ‘set menu’ at all and you know your bill will be less than £50 for the two of you, including wine and two courses. That’s really not bad in my book. Unless the food disappoints. We went along to check it out – read on to see what we thought.
My companion seemed to have decided to be vegan (although he most definitely is not). He ordered the crispy fried cauliflower with kimchi, pickled red onions and red pepper dressing, which looked stunning. Nutty and al-dente cauliflower beautifully spiced and served with a piquant pepper dressing.
Meanwhile, I opted for the crispy calamari, a classic dish which came with the tender calamari coated in panko breadcrumbs and delicious lime aioli on the side which lifted the dish nicely.
Other menu options included a delicious sounding ham hock, pickled carrot and mustard terrine or chicken and sesame dumplings.
Rather to my surprise, my carnivorous friend picked ‘Bill’s Wellington’ as his main course. Another vegan option, he explained that he was used to eating from the a la carte menu with a vegan friend – and that he’d actually thought the restaurant was vegetarian! Well, it’s not, but the vegetarian options are very good indeed. He thoroughly enjoyed his Wellington with a gravy that looked rich and full of umami flavours complementing the flaky pastry and the carrot, cashew nut and mushroom filling of the Wellington itself. There was a generous portion of butterbean mash too.
I was tucking into a refined dish of pan-fried chicken with wild mushrooms. A delicious and well-cooked chicken breast with a slathering of mixed mushrooms and a creamy wild mushroom sauce to pour over the herby mash. This is the kind of food where you forget what great value for money you are getting and just enjoy the experience.
We were happily quaffing a bottle of Bill’s own red wine too – remarkably good for £12 a bottle!
When it came to dessert I have to admit I was torn between ordering the warm mini cinnamon doughnuts and my final choice of warm triple chocolate brownie. It was delicious – every bit as good as the ones I make at home and served with a portion of ice cream and a naughty little flake!
My companion’s dessert went off piste a bit because we were both intrigued by the idea of lemon meringue cheesecake in a glass. Well, you know, it was what it said it would be! Love at first bite for him, the light, soft, caramelised meringue covered a delicious lemon curd and soft cheese mixture on a crumbed biscuit base.
We’d spent the evening dining al-fresco in the pretty courtyard at the front of Bill’s Reading, which from the address I am guessing must have been the vicarage for the Church opposite at one time. Indoors, the interior is classic Bill’s, perhaps not quite as impressive as the Covent Garden Bill’s restaurant but still with an eclectic selection of antiques and Bric a Brac, so we wouldn’t have been disappointed to have been forced there by the weather. But, given our lack of summer so far, I feel the need to take advantage of the few balmy evenings we have. In Reading, Bill’s benefits from being just a little way from the Oracle and Canalside restaurants. It’s a bit quieter and a bit easier to find the right place to sit. And, who could complain about such a substantial meal at such a reasonable price?
St Marys Church House,
Disclosure: we were guests of Bill’s Reading. All content is editorially given.
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