Dining at Bill’s

May 6, 2014 | By Catherine Caldwell

Q&A and coffee with Bill Granger of bills Sydney

Sit down for a charming meal with friends at bills Sydney, where the sunny, surfside food of Sydney meets Waikiki’s international vibe. Bill Granger, amiable Australian restaurateur and food writer, creates the feeling of “coming to Bill’s house” for a casual coffee or long Sunday lunch at his breezy, inviting new restaurant tucked behind the treetops at 280 Beachwalk Ave. With beloved establishments in Australia, Japan and the UK, bills Hawai‘i, which opened at the end of March, marks the chef’s first U.S. venue.

Why did you choose Hawai‘i and this location in Waikiki for your first U.S. restaurant?

I love Hawai‘i! Who doesn’t? [laughs] It’s a great international meeting place. I traveled here and fell in love with the cuisine and culture … I wanted to create the feeling of a mini resort in the middle of Waikiki—something special for locals and tourists.

What words do you believe best describe bills Hawai‘i?

Home-style cooking—not formal and fussy—but with a little glamour for fun.

I want every dish to be prepared like you’re at home. It’s not really restaurant food … it’s healthy, fresh and done in a lovely environment where you don’t want to be rushing out of!

All of these menu items look delicious. Do you have a favorite?

That’s like being asked to choose your favorite child [laughs]… I love them all! The kim chee fried rice [$16], ricotta hot-cakes [$14]—they’re a classic, good and delicious, and they’re so fluffy with the honeycomb butter. I also adore the fish curry [$18] … Nothing goes on the menu unless I love it.

You’re a former art student. How to you channel that creativity into your restaurant?

You eat with your eyes; the visual of food is equally important. I can’t make a plate of food and not make it look beautiful. I see a plate like a frame. I also take cue from [travels in] Japan. In Japan, visually, everything is presented very well. Here [at bills], we also think about everything in the presentation [of food and d├ęcor].

What feeling do you want guests to leave with after visiting bills?

I want them to feel happy and content … to walk out and be planning their next visit. If I can do that, I’ve done my job.