Our first morning in Sydney and we were up very early from the jet lag as usual. We had asked about the nearest bills the night before and were told that there was one not far from the hotel in Darlinghurst. bills is an Australian institution as with the popularity of his cookbooks, Bill Granger, along with the other Australian Donna Hay, have introduced the simple healthy diverse food and lifestyle of Australia to the rest of the world.
After watching the clock tick to 6:45, we hopped in a cab and arrived slightly earlier than their opening time of 7:30 a.m. Since they were still setting up, we decided to walk around and admire the Victorian terraced houses around the neighborhood. After about half an hour, we showed up hungry and still they weren’t quite ready but nicely allowed us in with the kids so we could at least have a much-needed coffee.
bills is a bright space on the corner of a quaint residential street with wooden floors and a large communal table in the middle. The counter was covered with glass-domed cake servers filled with cookies, muffins, meringues and cakes and a large gleaming chrome espresso machine. A bunch of daisies plopped into a vase was the only decoration aside from all the fresh produce and baked products.
After our first amazing flat whites of the day (what is it about coffee in Australia that makes it soooo delicious?), we were given the simple paper menus with the selection of all-day breakfast items, fresh-baked goods, juices, coffees and drinks. (There is a separate lunch menu as well with a few breakfast items, sandwiches, salads, soups and pastas). Each of us tried to order something different so we could try from each other’s plates. We had some fresh orange juice to start then the food started coming. The kids both had the scrambled eggs with sourdough toast and a side order of sausage. They were creamy (no wonder as the recipe is equal amounts of organic eggs and full fat cream cooked slowly over a low heat) and perfect scrunched on top of the crisp buttered sourdough toast with the chipolatas. A chose the soft-boiled eggs with buttered sourdough soldiers – again, simple orangey-yolk organic eggs cooked to perfection and just right for dipping those toast soldiers in. Y had the famous ricotta hot cakes with fresh banana and honeycomb butter – soft, fluffy hot cakes filled with powdered sugar and drizzled with warm maple syrup. I chose the equally famous sweet corn fritters with roast tomato, spinach and bacon – more of a brunch rather than breakfast dish – the fritters were crisp and sweet and filled with corn and the bacon and tomato were a great accompaniment to the fritters. We were still feeling a bit peckish after that, so more sourdough toast was ordered which came with their homemade jam and we also shared a bowl of the most delicious five-grain porridge with stewed fruit and just a few spoonfuls of brown sugar and cold milk swirled into the hot porridge. Another creamy flat white and it was still only 9:00 a.m. so we lingered a bit and spoke with one of the staff and ended up buying bills new cookbook (I already have two of them) – Everyday Asian. (Although I know it’ll be difficult to duplicate the exact flavors because I don’t have access to the same quality of organic produce here in Bali that is available in Australia, it’s still good to try.)
Since nothing was open yet, we followed our waiter’s suggestion and walked the long way back to our hotel via Victoria street with it’s Victorian houses then at the end of the road, we took the steep stairs down to the wharf at Woolloomooloo where we saw the preserved docks transformed into a hotel with a fantastic wooden deck running alongside the docks. From there, we walked up another quaint residential area on Bourke street then up towards Hyde park to our hotel. All in all about an hour’s walk and just right after our big breakfast. Unfortunately, that’s all we had time for in Sydney as we left that afternoon for Indonesia. Between dinner at Spice I Am and breakfast at bills, we had a real taste of the diverse cuisines and delicious food that Sydney (as well as Melbourne) is known for.
bills (the original one)
433 Liverpool Street
Telephone: +61 2 9360 9631
*Open for breakfast and lunch Mondays to Saturdays 7:30-3:00, and Sundays from 8:30-3:00
*Newer locations in Woolhara and Surry Hills in Sydney and three more in Japan.