Stamford Pride

Enjoying Milly’s Bistro at The William Cecil

A brand new dining experience in one of Stamford’s most venerable hotels. Milly’s is now open at The William Cecil providing wonderful dishes inspired by traditional bistro dining…

Pork T-bone, chimmichurri, ‘nduja, cream cheese, BBQ runner beans, £24.
Pork T-bone, chimmichurri, ‘nduja, cream cheese, BBQ runner beans, £24.

Aww! That’s Lovely! We always ask a head chef, as part of the interview constituent of our Dining Out feature, to name their ‘food heaven’ and their ‘food hell.’ For Tim O’Shea, the new Head Chef of Milly’s Bistro at Stamford’s William Cecil, there is no doubt whatsoever as to what constitutes food heaven: “Sunday roast,”

Tim answered with zero hesitation. “But not just any roast; my mum’s Sunday roast!” When Tim visits his parents, Susan O’Shea treats Tim and his father to not just one but two roast meats, plus whopping Yorkshire puddings and really crispy roasties. Dining, Tim says, should be a sociable, enjoyable, relaxed and happy event which brings people together to converse and enjoy each other’s company.

Tim’s philosophy is shared by everyone else at The William Cecil, whose owners revised its dining offering in spring this year to create the brand new Milly’s Bistro. It was conceived to coincide with the arrival of Tim and with a broader refurbishment of the bistro, bar and conservatory plus the arrival of the company’s Executive Head Chef – and Tim’s former colleague – Liam Goodwill back in 2022.

The parent company of the hotel, Hillbrooke, is fortunate to have not just The William Cecil within its portfolio of three venues, but also The Bull & Swan, just down the road. The latter is designed to offer gastropub-style dining and some comfortable relaxed open spaces. With that part of Stamford’s dining out market satisfied, their reinvention of Milly’s Bistro could afford to be a little more upmarket with innovative and stylish dishes. The bistro is affectionally nicknamed after Mildred Cooke, Baroness Burghley and the wife of William Cecil 1st Baron Burghley.

Previously the main dining room had tall-backed pew-style seats which almost created little booths for diners. The logic was to create a sense of intimacy and break up the large space. Now, the space has been opened up and brightened up again… and for the better, we think. It’s a large, light, happy environment with chunky oak and pristine white marble tables, stripped floorboards and wood panelling painted in a Cooking Apple Green, a nice design which fuses together the heritage of the building with the desire to create a more contemporary space in which to dine.

The aim, it seems, was to create the anti-corporate; a restaurant which was individually styled, smart but still relaxed and modern despite the architectural grandeur of a building which dates back to the mid-C18th and commands Grade II listed status. As well as the main restaurant’s 38 covers, diners can also enjoy the hotel’s bar and conservatory spaces or dine on the terrace subject to the Great British weather.

Liam and Tim have worked together to create a menu which offers prixe fixe options with two choices per course during lunchtime and evening service, alongside the main menu. There’s a choice of six small plate options, five starters, six main course options and four desserts, plus a board with a selection of artisan cheese.

Dishes dazzle on bright white dinner plates, napkins are fine white linen with blue ticking stripes, there are little wildflower bundles with ears of corn  too, a lovely doff of the hat to harvest time during our visit.

Local suppliers are favoured where quality permits. For instance, Hambleton Bakery provides sourdough bread, Grasmere Farms provide pork. Price & Fretwell of Derbyshire provide butchery whilst fish merchant Ritter delivers outstanding seafood to the hotel daily.

Highlights of the menu include starters of half-shell queen scallops Rockefeller or steak tartare, plus main course options like flat iron steak with Café de Paris butter or roast cod with a zesty salsa. And for pudding? A buttery French-inspired tarte tartin, updated seasonally (peach, during our visit) and a rocher of vanilla ice cream.

For those seeking somewhere smart but relaxed to dine Milly’s Bistro is ideal. And of course the dining room welcomes non-residents, not just those staying in one of the hotel’s 24 beautifully appointed rooms.

So, with Milly’s Bistro taking the lead on the provision of stylish, contemporary dining based on the principles of traditional classic French chefcraft, Hillbrooke’s Bull & Swan down the road is now offering its traditional Sunday lunches, as well as high quality pub restaurant dining and a new outdoor space for relaxed dining.

The Bull & Swan will transform its barbecue space from 3rd November into a winter ski chalet-style terrace with an alpine menu offering raclette and the availability of blankets plus a really nice touch in the form of hot water bottles for couples to snuggle under… it sounds very romantic and hygge; so we’re keen to try it when it opens.

Finally, look out for The William Cecil’s Autumn Supper Club on 10th November, featuring a tasting menu with wine pairing. And with the festive season just around the corner, festive dining packages are available – both for companies, or friends & family who want to raise a glass to the season – as well as festive afternoon teas.

Both The William Cecil and The Bull & Swan are happy siblings which have negotiated their own unique identities. The former especially looks and feels smart, but without being too formal or fussy. The addition of Milly’s Bistro will provide a slick, enjoyable dining experience that we can highly recommend this autumn.

Roast cod, creamed potato, spinach, tomato and pepper salsa, £24
Roast cod, creamed potato, spinach, tomato and pepper salsa, £24

On the Menu

Set Menu £22/£27

Pork terrine, prunes, pickles & toast.

Crisp chicken thighs, ricotta, jumbo cous cous, kale pesto, black olive crumb.

Vanilla panna cotta, Oakchurch raspberries, garden lavender biscuit.


Brixham half shell queen scallops ‘Rockerfella,’ £12.

Steak tartare and sourdough, £10.50.

‘Just a nice salad,’ with Berkswell cheese and hazelnuts, £9.


Flat iron steak, Café de Paris, Koffmann fries, £25.

Roast cod, creamed potato, spinach, tomato and pepper salsa, £24.

Pork T-bone, chimmichurri, ‘nduja, cream cheese, BBQ runner beans, £24.

Conchiglie pasta, artichokes, kale pesto, chopped burrata, £18.


Peach tarte tartin, vanilla ice cream, £9.50.

Strawberries and cream choux bun, jelly, strawberry ice cream, £8.50.

Chocolate and salted caramel delice, with Chantilly cream, £9.50.

Milly’s Bistro at The William Cecil

The Pitch: “Our new bistro, Milly’s, is the kind of place you want at the end of your street;

serious about food and drink but with a fun, welcoming vibe.”

Food Served: Lunch, 12 – 2.30pm Mon-Sat. Dinner 6 – 9pm, Mon-Sat. Sunday lunch 12 – 2.30pm (Lounge menu). Afternoon tea Mon-Sat 2.30pm-4.30pm, 12-5pm Sunday.

The William Cecil, St Martins, Stamford, PE9 2LJ. Call 01780 750070 or see or

The William Cecil's Milly's Bistro.
The William Cecil’s Milly’s Bistro.