For the first time I ever I was lucky enough to be invited to the reopening of a restaurant: Bill’s Southampton It’s something I have seen bloggers get the opportunity to do over the years, and now I’ve had the chance to do so also, I feel like my blogging is getting my somewhere, (the media silence has been longer than usual over summer.)
The lovely people over at Bill’s got in contact to invite me and a guest to visit the newly redone Southampton branch. The invite luckily coincided with my return to university and the bringing of all my stuff back, with the help of my dad. So I thought he would be the perfect guest to bring along, firstly because I am the best daughter and secondly because he loves his food – so much so he built a pizza oven in the back garden, as you do.
We turned up and were greeted by the manager and told we were allowed two courses and a round of drinks, but that if we felt we could manage desert they would be more than happy to oblige, which was lovely. Our waiter for the visit was Adam, he was very attentive, filling up our water glasses whenever he saw they were getting low and more than happy to help us choose our dishes.
We decided not to try out any fancy drinks because my dad was driving home afterwards, though when I next go out with friends I will be trying their Rhubarb Rossini which sounds like my perfect cocktail: strawberry puree, rhubarb liqueur and Prosecco. Instead we just went for our bog standard order of diet coke and then spent a while looking over the menu.
So, what did we go for? I went for my favourite Prawn Cocktail and then the Buttermilk Chicken Burger, while my dad went for Crispy Calamari and Pan Fried Sea Bass.
The Prawn Cocktail was different to how I expected it would be, simply because the presentation was deconstructed, rather than the traditional martini glass. Regardless it was quite tasty, though my dad did remark that the prawns didn’t taste all that fishy, slightly overpowered by the sauce. However, I did find a new love of the spiced tortillas, they were very good and not overly spicy either. It was a good size for an appetiser.
My dad’s Crispy Calamari was a hit for him. He said there was just the right amount, the cool dip took off the spicy edge and the lemon wedge was much appreciated. Though my dad didn’t eat the slithers of chilli, he noted that if you liked spice, they would be the way to amp it up.
My Buttermilk Chicken Burger was huge, I wish I could’ve eaten more, but I regret to say that it beat me. It was well presented, maybe could have used a little garnish on the plate to finish it off completely. The fries were piping hot and kept so by their metal container. The chicken wasn’t the warmest but that meant I could eat it straight away. I’m not a beef burger person so a chicken burger is the best for me, I really enjoyed it, I just wish I could have managed more.
My dad’s Pan Fried Sea Bass looked good, as did the extra broccoli he ordered which was very al dente, any more and it would be too much. Nothing was over or under seasoned and the potato at the bottom was apparently very tasty. His only note was that it wasn’t a big enough portion, and needed the extra side, (plus a few of my chips!) Other than that it was much enjoyed.
What about the refurbishment you ask. It’s really nice in there, mix of plants, elegant fixtures and fittings rounded off with a slight industrial feel. The music, although quite loud, was very appropriate; there were lots of remixes of songs into more reggae styles which fit the vibe. The bar area looked amazing, it reminded me a little of the Ivy in Winchester, and as you can see above, it looks more like a posh coffee shop in areas than a restaurant.
Often there are little things you notice at restaurants that you don’t give much thought, but as I was there for a press visit me and my dad discussed them while he had an espresso. The table wasn’t the cleanest, nor were the condiments so perhaps that could be looked into a little, also apparently the gents loos were pretty grim. The ladies weren’t too bad and for once there were more ladies than men’s toilets. My dad pointed out that his visit was his last memory of the place which is unfortunate as on the whole the experience was great.
On the plus side, there were plenty of staff members available to help and the food arrived promptly. Also, the espresso was apparently chocolatey and good enough my dad wished he had ordered a double. I wish that I’d had enough room for pudding!
The manager had a little chat with me at the end to thank me for coming and to ask what we had, I imagine this doesn’t happen to all customers, however it was a nice touch.
I will definitely be going back to Bill’s Southampton, I’ve been before and liked the food, I did this visit too. The new look is very elegant and the range of food available means you’re almost sure to find something you like, you can find the menu here. (They also do amazing breakfast options, just saying.)
The trip to Bill’s Southampton was a Press Visit, the food was gifted to me in return for social media coverage. The subsequent blog post was my own choice to write and Bill’s had no input into what would be written, all opinions are my own. See my full disclaimer here…