Bills has been on my list of places to try ever since it opened earlier this year. It is the first restaurant in Korea from Australian celebrity chef Bill Granger. I was especially keen to try it as I actually lived above one of Bill’s Sydney restaurants and we often used to pop downstairs for brunch on a weekend. Living in that house in Sydney was one of the best years of my life so I will always remember the restaurant fondly.
We had planned to come to Bills to eat brunch, but unfortunately the brunch/breakfast menus end at 11am, as if anyone is ever going to get up that early on weekend! So what we had was the lunch menu which still includes some of the more popular breakfast items like the full Aussie, the ricotta pancakes, and more hearty sandwiches, salads, and main dishes from the lunch menu. It didn’t take long to notice that practically every other table had ordered the ricotta pancakes. While that’s clearly the dish that is most popular with the Korean clientele, we went for more of the lunch style items.
Since it was technically brunch in my eyes I used it as an opportunity to get a little sloshed so ordered the Bloody Mary (10,000). However when it turned up I was left wondering if the waiter had chugged 3 quarters of it on the way over. It was literally an inch high. I explained that a Bloody Mary was usually a long drink, but they assured me this was how they served it, so I added a glass of ice to it. Taste wise it was pretty damn good, very heavy on the horseradish which I loved, and made with divine tomato juice. It was good, however I just wanted it to be at least double the size. It must have been strong though, as I had a little buzz on. My dining companions were feeling a bit healthier than I was and both got got a smoothie. I had a sip of each but wasn’t blown away, which I want to be for an 8,000 – 9,000 glass of squashed fruit I could make for a quarter of the price at home.
First to come out was the coconut, chicken, nashi pear, watercress, and avocado salad (19,000). Rather expensive for a salad, but damn was it good. The chicken was tossed in creamy coconut and lemongrass dressing which was heavenly. The salad had a perfect balance of taste. It had a nice pepperyness from the watercress, and nashi pear added a nice sweet element, while the lime added a nice zing. It was light yet so flavourful at the same time, if someone else was paying I’d eat this for my lunch every day of the week.
Next out was my Wagyu Beef Burger (21,000). A wagyu beef patty topped with Swiss cheese, pickled cucumbers, and served in a brioche bun. On the side was a dish of club sauce, iceberg lettuce topped with ranch dressing and a bowl of fries. The burger while thick and well seasoned didn’t quite illicit the “Mmm,” factor that the chicken salad did. It had the potential to be a perfect burger I just felt it a bit light on the toppings, it certainly needed the club sauces and some caramelized onions and salty bacon wouldn’t have gone amiss either. While it was a good burger which I would more than likely order again, to me it needed a little more to make it a great burger. I did however love the spicy ranch dressing that the iceberg lettuce was doused in. I have no idea now they got the rich smokey flavour but it was divine. I even added some to my burger which definitely kicked it up a notch.
Last to come out was the Duck Ragu (24,000). Parpadelle pasta topped with duck ragu with truffled umeboshi mushrooms, and leaves. Parpadelle is one of my favourite pastas and while this is a dish I would be unlikely to pick, I really enjoyed it a lot. The duck ragu was so rich and juicy, and was perfectly matched with fragrant truffle cooked mushrooms. I only had two bites but from what I had I was very happy.
For dessert my companion ordered the Baked Banana and Salted Sticky Toffee Pudding served with cream(9,000). If I was being very picky I’d prefer it with vanilla ice cream, but otherwise it was nice way to round out the meal. The banana paired well with the toffee, although a little more toffee sauce would have been nice.
Being a bit of a lush, instead of dessert, I had another cocktail. This time a Passion fruit Margarita (10,000) as they didn’t have the Bellini. I’m rarely a fan of a margarita straight up but this was beautifully made. The fruity flavour of the passion fruit really triumphed over the taste of the tequila and despite it being quite small it still packed a punch which I felt all afternoon.
Overall I really enjoyed our lunch at Bills. It’s a great location, despite it being inside the mall it’s still very light and spacious. The menu has a great mix of items and the booze is reasonably priced too. One word of caution they do not accept brunch reservations so I’d suggest coming early, we waited almost an hour for our table at 1 o’clock, though there are plenty of shops to look around while you wait.
Bills is located on 1F Lotte World Mall, 300, Olympic-ro, Songpa-gu, Seoul. To get there take a train to Jamsil Station and come out of exit 2, follow the sign for the Lotte mall and then take the escalator up to the first floor. Walk straight past all the designer stores and outside into the other building. Follow the walk way to and you will see Bills on the right. For more information you can call them on 02-3213 4185 or check out their website.