Who says breakfast has to be first thing in the morning? Now school’s out and the pace of life in Sussex has slowed, there’s one place where you can go if the urge for a full-blown fry up grabs you in the afternoon.
Billy’s on the Road, in Five Oaks near Billingshurst, has been serving breakfasts and brunches all day, every day, for five years. If you’re not a sausage, bacon and eggs person then there are 45 (yes, 45!) different breakfast items on the menu. You could spend until lunchtime just making a decision. And by then you might have been swayed by the rest of the menu which ranges from toasties to classics like fish and chips, pasta dishes, home baked cakes and seasonal puddings. Not forgetting the specials board which is chalked up daily.
Children have their own separate menu with fun names like Wiffle Waffle or Dinner’s in the Dog, plus their own breakfast selection and their own specials board.
The eclectic menu is created by owner, Billy Willison, who has decades of catering experience in restaurants and wine bars around the world. She is still a frequent traveller and enjoys bringing new ideas back to the Billy’s kitchen. A set of vibrant coloured porcelain chillies hanging from the diner ceiling and a spicy avocado breakfast on the menu are evidence of her recent trip to Mexico.
“I am passionate about food and love sampling local dishes and wondering will this work back home on the Billy’s menu,” says Billy.
Her interest in food began the moment she could stand on a stool as a little girl to watch her father - an eminent neurologist – prepare inspired family meals as a way of relaxation. Billy has cooked in the kitchens of 500-seater restaurants in Sydney, in busy French bistros, and in wine bars in the heart of London. She had her own wine bar business and used good food to entice people out of the pubs. With the support of her family and her business partner Chris Fry, she opened Billy’s on The Road at Billingshurst in February 2013 and within weeks had a strong brand on her hands which they then used to create the equally successful seaside café in Bracklesham Bay – Billy’s on The Beach.
While some of her inspiration comes from her travels, Billy is an avid supporter of suppliers on her home turf. A classic Billy’s Big Breakfast will have fried eggs from Nick `The Egg Man’ at Hallgate Farm, Petworth; sausages from butcher John Murray, just down the road in Loxwood and fresh, grilled tomatoes from Nutbourne Nursery near Pulborough. Mop up your plate with fresh bread from Jengers Craft Bakery in Billingshurst and wash it down with a chilled glass of apple juice from Tullens Fruit Farm in Pulborough or a delicious cup of coffee roasted to Billy’s own blend by Edgcumbes, of Arundel.
And the portion sizes are huge – there’s many a customer who has been beaten by a Billy’s breakfast. No wonder the diner gets through around 2,000 eggs, 1,500 rashers of bacon and 550 sausagse every week.
It has a strong local following as well as being a regular pitstop for truckers, bikers and families heading down the A29 to the coast. A big draw is the fact that the rules of when breakfast can be eaten don’t apply at Billy’s. A familiar sight is a family sitting down to a late lunch with dad tucking into a fried brekkie, mum enjoying a dish of fresh pesto spaghetti with prawns and the kids happily immersed in a plate of waffles.
“I think breakfast is the best meal of the day, so it should be available all day,” adds Billy.