I've elected to stay with 8-bit mode as I need the pins as GPIO. Text rendering works well provided you are careful to over print a region rather than blanking it first (which causes a flicker).
The fonts came from UTFT. I might patch them to add proportional support but monospace is fine for now. I've knocked up a basic menu system too.
Tired of all the wires the prototype, I ordered some PCBs from OSHpark.com. $50 for three, they should be here any day now.