Will’s + Bill’s is a savvy addition to the Main Line dining scene
by Melissa Jacobs
With extensive, creative cocktail options, a menu filled with too many tempting choices to tackle in one visit and décor that is both upscale and relaxed, Will’s + Bill’s is exactly the brewpub we didn’t know we needed.
Dark wood, plaid upholstered seating and cozy lighting makes Will’s + Bill’s feel more like a traditional steakhouse than a brewpub. Indeed, the brewing tanks are tucked into a room at the far end of the dining room, leaving the rest of the spacious restaurant for a large bar, traditional tables and big banquettes perfect for your pandemic pod. These days, we can’t but notice the spacing of tables in restaurants and Will’s + Bill’s nails it perfectly; we were very comfortable dining indoors.
Choosing a drink isn’t easy. Beers include the Berwyn 1877 lager, WB’s Signature Light, Tartan IPA and Wicked Will’s Wit. Our choice: St. Stephen’s Chocolate Porter, a darkly delicious, creamy and smooth blend of chocolate and coffee flavors. It’s one of the best locally-brewed beers we’ve had all year.
As befits a pub, Will’s + Bill’s offers a wide variety of whiskey, bourbon, rye, and Scotch, plus wines by the bottle and glass. Cocktails like WB’s Manhattan, smokey old fashioned and Rosemary Bob rye share space with lighter drinks like the prosecco spritzer and Napa wine mixer.
Food options include starters, shareables, burgers, bowls and salads that seem perfect for casual dining and the ingredient combinations are delightfully intriguing. Roast cauliflower hummus, baked artichoke parmesan crostini and harissa lamb meatballs share the menu with mushrooms and grain salad and a Buddha bowl. There are plenty of vegetarian and otherwise healthy options from which to choose.
We went the other way, ordering burgers, guacamole and chips, and old English crab dip. Our food was delicious, especially the Hereford steak burgers served on toasted brioche buns. Word of advice: Get the double burger, which provides two 4 oz. patties, or order one 10 oz. burger. The single 4 oz. is great for lunch but a wee bit shy of a full dinner.
If you’re in the mood for an even more substantial meal, Will’s + Bill’s has an extensive seafood menu, plus steak, Shakespeare’s pie and cavatelli with braised pork and shishito peppers.
For dessert, we got WB’s flourless chocolate brownie sundae, which is big enough – and rich enough – to share. Other dessert choices include a New York-style cheesecake and gelato.
While the food, drink and décor were wonderful, the absolute best part of the experience was entirely accidental. After our plates were cleared, a father and daughter approached and asked to take a photo of the painting that hung on the wall next to our table. It’s a portrait painted by Caroline Mangan of her husband Bill Mangan, patriarch of the family that owns Will’s + Bill’s and its sibling McKenzie Brew House. Mangan died last year, but we have no doubt that he’d be thrilled with the restaurant that bears his name.
We’ll be back to for more cocktails, pints and food. Be sure to make a reservation, because every savvy Main Liner will be trying to get a table.