Americans are obsessed with brunch. This combination of breakfast and lunch encompasses much of what we love to eat, and alcoholic beverages are a perfectly acceptable morning drink when you’re having brunch (as we tell ourselves that it’s 5 o’clock somewhere). I’m always on the lookout for a new place to have brunch. When I heard that Billy’s in Barrington had recently started serving Sunday brunch, I had to give it a try.
While the outside of the restaurant is unassuming, the inside, with its dark wood accents, European art work and even a coat closet inside of an old-school European phone booth, sets a distinctly different tone.
Billy’s does away with one of the things I don’t like about brunch: waiting for a table. Most of my favorite brunch spots don’t take reservations, and for someone who is not good at waiting, this is a definite negative. Billy’s not only offers reservations for brunch, the restaurant uses Open Table. Making my 11:50am reservation was very easy, and when I got there my table was ready.
The service here was a true highlight of my meal. I could tell that the staff genuinely cared about the restaurant and making sure that customers were satisfied. There was a large party (16 people) seated in the bar area, but my guest and I still received top-notch service. Sometimes a party like that will tie up the kitchen, but in this case, there was no delay. Before your meal arrives, the restaurant provides homemade buttery, cinnamon streusel coffee cake – an amuse-bouche for your brunch. The manager brought us two pieces to start. We ate it so quickly (because it was so good), our waitress thought we hadn’t received our portion yet and brought us two more pieces. We wanted to save room for our breakfast, so the staff wrapped the extra pieces up for us to take home.
There wasn’t a specific brunch drink menu, but our waitress did tell us what cocktails were available. One of the drinks was a Bloody Mary served with a plethora of accompaniments, including a deep-fried pickle. I was more in the mood for something fruity, so I sampled the Bellini ($10), made with fresh peach puree. It was so tasty that I had another. My guest had coffee ($2). For her, coffee can break the meal, and she thought Billy’s was better than most places.
Since it was a beautiful summer day, we decided to splurge and order some donuts to start off our meal. They were from Vienna Bakery (located just up the street). I had the Jelly Donut ($4) and my guest had the Glazed Twister ($4). They were both good, and a nice way to kick off brunch.
Instead of my normal order (Eggs Benedict), I decided to be daring and sample the Breakfast Pizza ($14). First of all, this was a huge portion. There were eight slices, and I struggled just to finish four of them. The crust was excellent, and it was topped with scrambled eggs, bacon, caramelized onions and cheese. The pizza was offered with a choice of hollandaise sauce or sriracha drizzled on top, and I picked the sriracha. The dish made me want to come back and try a pizza at dinnertime. It was a lot of food, but to offset all of the carbs I was eating, I also ordered a side of Seasonal Fruit ($5). The saucer of fruit wasn’t big in size, but all of the fruit was fresh and flavorful. It was a nice mix of watermelon, honeydew, strawberries, pineapple and blueberries. My guest ordered the Billy’s Benedict ($16): a traditional, toasted English muffin as the base, with two well-prepared crab cakes sitting on top of each muffin half. Topping the crab cakes were two poached eggs. Poaching eggs can be tricky, but these were perfect with plenty of runny egg yolk to meld with the other flavors. The dish was crowned with freshly made and tasty hollandaise sauce, and served with a mound of breakfast potatoes and a lightly dressed green salad (very Parisian).
If you’re anything like me, you are always looking for a new spot to have brunch. And it’s a huge plus to find one that takes reservations. I’m looking forward to going back and trying some of their other offerings. They even have a brunch Surf and Turf – a Little Billy Burger and a Lobster Roll! I think that will pair well with the Fried Pickle Bloody Mary.
286 Maple Avenue, Barrington