For those who don't know, Bill Granger is a well known Australian chef/café owner, with boyish good looks and a dazzling smile, who has published quite a few cook books. He offers a breezy, laid back cuisine fitting into an aspirational idea of what it's like to live the Sydney brunch lifestyle. His latest project is best described as a lifestyle café situated on the sea at Kamakura/Enoshima. On a recent Saturday I decided to make the trek out to Kamakura with a couple of friends for lunch to see whether the promise of Sydney could really be transplanted to the ancient capital of Japan.
I have been to Bills in Sydney quite a few times over the years and have found that, even though you need to line up most of the time, the food is pretty tasty and just the kind of thing that hits the spot after a boozy night out. When we arrived at Bills Kamakura the dining room was half empty, yet the efficient girl with the clipboard told us to come back in an hour. After having some improvised appetizers in the 7/11 carpark over the street, we returned after only 45 minutes to find a table was available for us.
The food itself bore some resemblance to the Bills formula but in truth it was hard see how it really differed from any other similar modern café in Tokyo. The fit-out looks great, but there's a certain stiffness to the crowd and the staff that really makes it a stretch to believe you're really living the casual but glamorous Bills life. As for the food, we found it to be a bit light on in terms of the serving size and one of my dining partners gave some pretty mixed reviews about the quality and temperature of her scrambled eggs and bacon. The food wasn't bad but we all felt a little hungry afterwards.
The food is pretty dear and the drinks are horribly expensive eg small cappucino for 600 yen and a ginger beer which was mostly ice for 700 yen. All in all I have to say, even though it feels way too pretentious to say this about Aussie café food, the execution at the Kamakura branch lacks authenticity. Indeed, I felt it could a facsimile of Santa Monica as much as Sydney. By all means go, but remember they don't call it "Bills" for nothing.