In with the Chain Street gang

Published: 26 Aug 2011 09:30

Bill's is a place to eat, buy food and socialise and the Reading Store, in Chain Street, is one of five UK outlets in this new restaurant and produce chains.

The founder is Bill Collison and his other stores are in Brighton, Cambridge, Covent Garden and Lewes. The Reading store is based in St Mary's church house and offers a great range of bread, jams, chutneys, oils and other quirky stuff to buy. Breakfast is on offer all day and they have a lovely outside area for that alfresco dining in the day or at night. In the evening it is beautifully lit up and patio heaters are provided. They can also put together picnic hampers to take away.

If you are dining in the restaurant there are 'Bag of Bills' forms on each table - and you can tick what you would like to take away. They add it to your bill and bring it wrapped up to your table before you leave. I thought this was a cute touch.

St Mary's Church House is a fabulous building with a large feature staircase. The vicar of St Mary's church lived there previously and now the walls are decorated with delightful recipes from the menu and shelves of home made preserves, juices and brightly packaged bags of rice.

My next visit to the town will no longer consist of my usual cake and latte from a high street superstar, but a heavenly fresh warm scone and deliciously delicate cappuccino. I was so impressed with the dessert that it will be a long time before I stop recommending it to people

This is comfort eating in the extreme and could easily turn into one of your favourite local restaurants, as was proved in our visit when the manager, Jo Tagalides, presented complimentary champagne to a couple who had just announced their engagement.

Bills is 10 minutes from Reading Train Station and five minutes from the Oracle. House wines are from £3.95 a glass - including their own 'Hedgerow Fizz', an elderflower cordial and blackberry sparkling wine. There is a good selection of fresh juices and smoothies. For lunch we had crispy fried calamari rings with paprika served with garlic mayo at £5.75. Bill's hamburger with skin on chips and goats cheese and roasted vegetable tart. The chocolate brownie and scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam were amazing.

Open Monday to Saturday 8am to 10.30pm and Sunday 9am to 10pm. Tel: 0118 939 1365.

Clare Bailey

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