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Saturday, March 05, 2005

bills, Darlinghurst

If there's one place in Sydney that is Mecca for breakfast afficianados, it's bills. The phenomenally successful Bill Granger springboarded his career via a plate of humble but unbelievable scrambled eggs and the rest, as they say, is history.

Today Grainger is restaurant owner (bills in Darlinghurst opened 1993 and bills2 opened in Surry Hills in 1996); best-selling cookbook author (bills food, sydney food and bills open kitchen); TV presenter (bills food on Australia's Lifestyle Channel and the UK's BBC2); and regular radio guest.

With so many things on his plate, not to mention three cherubic golden-haired children as well, we'll forgive him his erroneous habit of omitting apostrophes!

bills is disguised in an assuming Victorian terrace house, the neutral colour-schemed facade giving little indication of the embryonic mastery which occurs within.

We arrived at 7.30am on a Saturday, well aware of the notorious weekend breakfast queues. The gigantic communal wooden table was spotless bar the meticulously arranged magazines and newspapers.

It's sunny, warm and casual inside. A gigantic blackboard lists the menu on one wall and the kichen is vaguely visible behind the front counter.

We grabbed our own table though and hemmed and hawed over the delirious menu options before placing our orders. We'd heard that bills has a reputation for slow service and indeed it took twenty minutes for our drinks to arrive. Time enough to take pictures of the condiments and Murray River salt flakes anyway...

The coffee though, was worth the wait.
Goooood coffee.
Two thumbs up!

Grinders coffee $3.50

We eschewed the healthy (read: ho hum) options of Bircher muesli, fruit plate and cereal in favour of Bill's signature dishes. We wanted the scrambled eggs, we wanted the corn fritters, we wanted the ricotta hotcakes... we wanted it all!

Wholewheat toast with free range scrambled eggs $11.80

Wholewheat toast with free range scrambled eggs and bacon $16.00

Sweet corn fritters with roast tomato, spinach and bacon $16.80

Ricotta hotcakes with fresh banana and honeycomb butter $16.00

What can we say but yuuuuuuuuuuuummm.

The scrambled eggs were indeed divine. Soft, delicate pillows of decadence; although it's little wonder they taste so good with 1/3 of a cup of cream used per two eggs, according to the recipe!

The bacon was also good. There's a big difference between good bacon and bad bacon. And bills' bacon brought it home. Crisp, tasty and full of flavour (not water and fat).

The toast was perfect too--thick chunks of homestyle bread.

Corn fritters were bursting with freshly shaved corn kernels, juicy and firm to the bite. There was plenty of corn and red capsicum, although there were some mouthfuls where the batter was still a little gluggy.

Ricotta hotcakes were the final hurrah: three fluffy ovals of airy goodness, interspersed with surprise pockets of pure ricotta. The honeycomb butter gave a sporadic pleasing crunch to mouthfuls of maple syrup-soaked hotcakes (although there wasn't nearly enough of the butter for our greedy liking!).

By 8.20pm we noticed there was a queue of about ten people spilling out along the footpath.

And having finally eaten the legendary scrambled eggs too, we now know why.

Next time we're leaving room for the homemade toasted coconut bread!

433 Liverpool Street Darlinghurst Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9360 9631

Mon - Fri 7.30-12.00
Saturday 7.30-15.00
Sunday 8.30-15.00

Mon - Sun 12.00-15.00

Mon - Sat 18.00-22.00

10% surcharge on weekends and public holidays
BYO corkage $3 per bottle

Related GrabYourFork posts:
bills Surry Hills (breakfast)
bills Surry Hills (dinner)
bills Woollahra (Jun 2007)
bills Woollahra (Jan 2007)
16 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (AugustusGloop) on 3/05/2005 08:30:00 am


  • At 3/06/2005 11:36 pm, Blogger Jess (fushmush) said…

    mmm, I had the ricotta pancakes when I was there last. Yes, they are divine!

  • At 3/07/2005 1:10 am, Blogger santos. said…

    ah, it's good to see that the food in the restaurant looks like the food in the books, which look like the food i prepare at home when i follow the recipes. those eggs are a cardiac arrest on a plate, they're gorgeous--and stupidly simple to make, too!

  • At 3/07/2005 3:12 am, Blogger Ms One Boobie said…

    The coffee looks devine..!! Oh.. how i miss Sydney..!!

  • At 3/07/2005 7:06 am, Blogger Ben said…

    Bills books are great reads - and simple to follow!

    Glad the place lived up to its rep.

  • At 3/07/2005 12:39 pm, Blogger Sam said…

    And I have had the ricotta pancakes there too - a great way to while away the time and eat delcious food and read magazines. As a solo traveller I felt totally comfortable there. Maybe I'll be back soon...?

  • At 3/07/2005 2:19 pm, Blogger Niki said…

    It looks incredible, but, jeez, it's a bit expensive, isn't it! I know it's excellent quality food, but I still baulk at $16 for a plate of egg and bacon with toast. With the huge numbers of people coming, they wouldn't really need to inflate their prices so much, would they? Or perhaps that is a way of trying to keep traffic down?
    I still maintain that if a place charge more than about $10-12 for a egg & bacon fryup then they possbly shouldn't. (Having said all that though, I have no doubt that I'd be first in line at Bill's when up in Sydney! :-) )

  • At 3/07/2005 7:08 pm, Blogger Helen (AugustusGloop) said…

    Hi Jess - The hotcakes were good. I liked the surprise bits of ricotta best. Must try and make these some time...

    Hi Santos - Yeah I was surprised by how easy the eggs look to prepare based on the recipe. And yes, cream overload. They tasted velvety and now I know why! Another one to try at home...

    Hi MrsT - The coffee was surprisingly good. Good strong coffee is hard to find and the crema on this was perfect!

    Hi BHR - Yeah bill does do great recipes. Nothing too finicky or fussy.

    Hi Sam Breach (Sixty Beast) - The communal table is a good idea for single diners. Perhaps also a great place to pick up other singles (hey, they have good taste in food huh?). hehe. We wondered if anyone's eyes met as they passed the salt etc etc...

    Hi Esurient - Isn't pricing always determined by what the market will bear?

    Yes the menu is on the pricey side, but I would say it's worth it.

    It's a treat breakfast (well for some of us it is!) and the constant queues would indicate that Sydneysiders are prepared to pay top dollar for Bill's eggs. Why would he want to charge less if people are willing to pay it?

    And that bacon was pretty darn good!

  • At 3/07/2005 11:11 pm, Blogger Niki said…

    Yes, what you've said is all true. I've become quite price conscious in the past year, after giving up work and going back to study full time. My partner is also scraping by, and it's noticeable how expensive it is to go out for even simple food nowdays! When we find a place that serves good quality food without an huge mark-up we get very excited (the Tin Pot Cafe in St George's Road, North Fitzroy is a definite favourite and fits our criteria!)

  • At 3/10/2005 8:48 am, Blogger Helen (AugustusGloop) said…

    Hi Esurient - I understand the budget-thing. And bills is definitely a treat-kinda-place for me (altho' most of his clientele seem to be regulars).

    I find Vietnamese, Chinese and Lebanese restaurants always offer the best value for money when it comes to eating out. However when I was in Melbourne, I was disappointed with the small size of Chinatown compared to Sydney.

    We found a great Spanish restaurant Moro's on Johnston Street in Fitzroy though which had huge meals for reasonable prices. And their tortilla espanol was freshly cooked and absolutely enormous!

  • At 6/23/2005 11:32 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Visited Bills on a one day stopover from the UK managed two breakfasts! Best Ive ever had from USA to Hong Kong, sending everybody I know travelling to Sydney to BILLS.

  • At 8/19/2005 9:42 pm, Blogger Helen (AugustusGloop) said…

    Hi Roy Harris - Excellent. It's certainly an enviable way to break up the jetlag! =)

  • At 11/29/2005 8:25 am, Blogger *fanny* said…

    Wow, you made my wish come true. It's been years since i want to visit Sydney and its famous Bills. I hope i'll be able to go to australia in the next few years...

  • At 8/20/2006 10:49 pm, Blogger deeleea said…

    Bill's is hands down my favourite place to take guests to Sydney. And I find it totally impossible to eat anything other than the hotcakes even though I make them myself (with equal success... ).

    Simply divine.

  • At 8/22/2006 10:42 pm, Blogger Helen (AugustusGloop) said…

    Hi fanny - You should definitely come. Sydney has some great eats!

    Hi deeleea - Ooh yes the hotcakes are quite more-ish, esp with that honeycomb butter. Mmmm...

  • At 3/05/2010 9:12 pm, Anonymous PastryPrincess said…

    i went there for brunch with a friend today... what can i say, i LOVED it! after having read your thorough research ;) i knew i had to go. its around the corner from where im staying and i walked by a couple of days before and popped in to ask when the best time to come would be, i.e. not super busy. we went at 11.30am and there were a good few people but it was not too busy and really nice. we ate so much, tried all the famous stuff, loved the food and the relaxed athmosphere. we were sad when we'd polished off our plates - i was already craving more hotcakes - we didnt want this brunch to be over and stayed for the whole of more than 3 hours! i could actually move in there! ;D the staff were nice and treated us to some peanut brittle of which i had to buy more as well as a muffin to take home. YUM! i wish i had known about it before, i would have went all the time! gonna blog about it really soon. thanks for an amazing morning because of your recommendation! ;D

  • At 3/15/2010 2:23 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi PastryPrincess - Great to hear you enjoyed your meal. I think Bills is a bit of a must-do for tourists :) A 3-hour visit is very impressive too and how lovely to receive a little peanut brittle bonus too!


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