It’s the first of many walks to Surry Hills during this Sydney trip. My legs protest as we walk up a steep hill to get to our destination of bills on Crown Street, but my growling tummy gives me all the motivation I need.
The man behind bills (also in Darlinghurst and Woollahra) is celebrity self-taught cook Bill Granger, a man blessed with cooking talent and a great smile but apparently unable to use an apostrophe with his name. My friends and family know very well how much it’s irked me for years to see “bills” rather than “bill’s” on Bill Granger’s books* and TV series (the lack of apostrophe bothers me more than the lower case “b” – to me, “bills” denotes a pile of unwanted paperwork). I’m sure I’m not the only stickler for punctuation – come on, own up if you cringe at the sight of “bills”! I enjoy his TV shows though, and he does cook a beautiful breaky.
By the time we arrive it’s after 9am but it seems lots of people have the time for a leisurely breakfast on a Friday morning at bills, Surry Hills – there are no spare seats inside and no one looks like leaving any time soon, so we settle for a sun-dappled table outside.
The freshly squeezed orange juice isn’t cheap (AU$6.50) but I’m happy to pay the price for a glass of sweet, pulp-free liquid sunshine.
Speaking of the AU$6.50 glass of orange juice, some of you may remember the incredulous Vincent Vega and the US$5 shake at Jack Rabbit Slims in the movie Pulp Fiction:
Vincent (John Travolta): Did you just order a $5 shake?
Mia (Uma Thurman): Mmm-hmm.
Vincent: That’s a shake? Milk and ice cream?
Mia: Last I heard.
Vincent: It costs five dollars?
Vincent (to the waiter): You don’t put bourbon in it or nothin’?
Vincent: Just checking.
We each order one of Bill Granger’s classic breakfast dishes. Jay has the scrambled eggs with sourdough toast (AU$13.50). The eggs have been gently folded rather than scrambled for the perfect texture – creamy and soft but not runny. It’s a simple yet deceptively decadent dish – according Bill Granger’s recipe, it’s made using 1/3 cup of cream to two eggs.
Juji orders the ricotta hotcakes with fresh banana (hidden under the hotcakes in this photo), honeycomb butter and maple syrup (AU$18.50). You’d think honeycomb butter and maple syrup would make a sickly sweet combination, but the hotcakes themselves are not that sweet. The hotcakes are light and fluffy pillows that almost give me a case of dish envy.
But I am soon fully focused on dismantling and devouring my sweet corn fritters with roast tomato, spinach and bacon (AU$18.50). The fritters are full of sweet corn kernels that pop with every bite. Bill Granger’s cracked the secret of the quintessential fritter, not soggy or doughy – they’re crisp, hold their shape and taste of the corn, not the batter.
Our waiter kindly brings us extra plates to make sharing easier.
I’d hoped to eat at bills the last time I was in Sydney but didn’t have the time. It took me 18 months to get back here but I’m pleased I did. I really enjoyed this breaky. It’s easy to understand why the dishes we ordered are so famous and why bills is such a breakfast institution.
bills, Surry Hills
359 Crown Street
Telephone: (02) 9360 4762
7am to 10pm Monday to Sunday
Lunch till 3pm
Dinner from 5pm
Breakfast available all day
Bookings taken for 5pm to 7pm Sunday to Friday only
Credit cards incur 1% surcharge
If you live in London, you can get a taste of Bill Granger’s famous scrambled eggs, ricotta hotcakes and corn fritters at the recently opened Granger & Co.
*bills food, bills open kitchen and bills sydney food come to mind. More recently though, I’ve noticed Bill’s Basics and Bill’s Everyday Asian – has an editor finally won the punctuation battle? :)