Gdansk – Billy’s American Restaurant

I’ve been aware of this chain in Gdansk (they have three in the main part of the city and one in Sopot) for a while as they’re well reviewed and seemingly on-trend and reliable. This is the first time that I’ve visited though and I chose their branch on Wyspa Spichrzów, or Granary Island.

I liked the welcome that was offered, a friendly staff member who gave me a choice between sitting in this outside area or inside in what looked a more American diner set-up. This outdoors bit looked more exciting as it seemed quiet inside, but I liked that I was given the option. The temperature in this area was warm, as is evident from the raging fire heaters, but I think those near the door got quite a chill every time a customer came in. It was nice to be able to see outside as well, as this is a riverside location.

Putting the environmental cost of heating what is effectively outdoors in a cold Gdansk evening aside, this is a cosy and warm atmosphere. There were a selection of different groups, including what appeared to be a group of female friends, a family group and a couple who spent most of the evening ignoring each other.

The beer range isn’t as decadent as I’d like, but I realised that I’ve never added Tyskie to Untappd and so I used this as an opportunity. They also give each table a little (well, reasonably large really) bucket of popcorn, and this is another advantage in dining alone. It took me a fair while to finish all this popcorn, it ended up being my starter and dessert.

As an aside, there was a table with a couple of kids who I noted were taking popcorn from tables where the guests were leaving, as very few customers got through all their popcorn. They seemed disappointed when it was evident I had gone through all of mine and I noticed the parents looked horrified every time their children did it (the kids were very subtle).

I went for the chicken fajitas and these were as good as I’d expect in a restaurant in the United States. Restaurants always seem really tight on the number of wraps they offer, which is three in this case, and it’d be impossible to fit the food into them. But that permanent grumble aside, the competent parts all tasted of a good quality, with the chicken being moist and having a flavour on the coating that I couldn’t identify (OK, I’m no Jay Rayner) but I very much liked. Everything was at the appropriate temperature, it was neatly presented and the portion size was generous. Especially given I had a bucket of popcorn to go through.

By Polish standards, the pricing here isn’t cheap, but it came to £11 for the meal and drink, with the bucket of popcorn being free, which I thought was reasonable given the location and the quality. The atmosphere is welcoming and the environment is comfortable, whether for a group or a solo diner. I can imagine this restaurant will be much busier in the summer months, but it seems spacious inside and they do have another outlet on the other side of the river.

The on-line reviews are very positive and I’d say that they reflect my experience as well, all very lovely and the food exceeded my expectations. They’re franchising this concept out at the moment and I can imagine it’ll be successful in other Polish cities, there’s something of the Whiskey in the Jar sort of vibe going on here. Anyway, a little bit of work on the craft beer options and I’d say that they’re pretty much there.