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Good food at Heathrow's T5?!


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I am researching for a short article about dining at Heathrow's new T5, and I've been asked by my editor to write about the top 3 restaurants at the terminal.

Who's eaten at T5 and can give me some feedback, please?

Believe it or not, the choice is hard, as there's lots of restaurants already opened or coming soon. Most notably, Wagamama's first airport outlet, Gordon Ramsay's Plane Food (ha ha) and Brasserie Roux, supervised by legendary chef Albert Roux (of Le Gavroche fame), which will open July 29 at T5's new Sofitel (attached to T5). These are my 3 choices, but I thought Caviar House might deserve to be included, too. Thoughts?

And here's more terminal food and drink info, from the BA site:

"The Galleries First Lounge, with 542 seats, will be for FIRST customers and Gold Executive Club members. The lounge will feature 'The Gold Bar', which is covered in gold leaf and is lit by a Swarovski crystal chandelier. During peak times the bar, again stocked with some of the world's most interesting wines and spirits, will be served or, if they prefer, customers can simply help themselves. The Wine Gallery will have a selection of prestigious wines and offer wine tastings at selected times throughout the day. The Champagne Bar, which has proved so popular in the First class lounge in Terminal 1, has been recreated within the new area and will serve a range of the best champagnes."

And more, from Caterer Search

"...free-range, organic, Fairtrade and sustainable products - will be an essential feature of the food offer [at the lounges]. Executive chef Bob Brown, formerly senior lecturer at Westminster College, will be introducing a strong training culture in the state-of-the-art kitchen. Considering there are no kitchen facilities for the lounges in T1 and T4, passengers should immediately enjoy a product far superior to anything they've experienced before at Heathrow."

and the link to T5's site

again, any feedback from people who've eaten at T5 would be much appreciated, thanks!

Alexandra Forbes

Brazilian food and travel writer, @aleforbes on Twitter

Official Website

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I had lunch at Plane Food a few weeks ago, back when T5 was running at about a tenth of capacity and was empty, more or less. The flight was delayed and I was very very bored, so took photos of the menus, the decor, the wine list, the comedy dollhouse cutlery, everything. I'll endevour to upload a few tonight.

In short: ordinary. Too ordinary to remember in detail. But if you're in situ and the plane's not on the departure board yet, it'll do.

Cauliflower soup with pine nuts and truffle oil (probably) was about the same standard as a Covent Garden carton, and had the raw overheatness of the microwave. Salad involving feta, melon and suchlike was disappointingly leafy.

A prawn and tomato pasta thing was the kind of assembly you do yourself when it's late and you can't be bothered to cook proper. Lamb chops, from the specials, were several bits of very good meat marinaded properly and nicely grilled. The half-raw curried potato wedges it came with would have shamed JD Wetherspoon though.

A bottle of okay Duero was £24 I think, versus £8 in my local offy. Staff were over-matey and keen to chat, as they always seem to be in Ramsay places. Bill came to £35 a head or thereabouts.

In truth, there's nothing interesting you can say about Plane Food. It's machine tooled in its ordinariness, which I guess is the point. It could slip effortlessly into every airport, trade fair site and mid-range hotel lobby in the world without anyone noticing or caring.

Edited by naebody (log)
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i'll bet london to a brick Plane food closes at the end of it's initial term. It was opened as a headline grabber under huge subsidy.

A meal without wine is... well, erm, what is that like?

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i'll bet london to a brick Plane food closes at the end of it's initial term.  It was opened as a headline grabber under huge subsidy.

Not sure it's fair to talk about subsidies in such locations, as it's inevitable the start-up costs will be shared and the calculations when deciding ground rent are fiendishly complicated. Also, Walnuts' contract with BAA is for ten years; an early break could only really happen by mutual consent if the business was not performing.

As promised, here are some pictures (they're linked, for the preservation of bandwidth among those not giving a monkeys):

Subtle branding.

The menu and winelist.

Could you hijack a plane with these?

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Really? Can't imagine why anyone would subsidize Ramsay. Since when does a millionaire restaurateur need a subsidy?! Odd... Are you sure?

because he's a high profile name that will help sell the rest of the site, it's common in many property developments whether they be food or retail, get an 'anchor tennant' that will pull in the punters like M&S / Ramsay and it's easier to fill the other units, and they will get a favourable lease, it's not uncommon for the big name chefs to get very favourable deals to put their restaurants into tokyo/ las vegas hotels for example where they are pretty much guaranteed to make money regardless of how many meals they actually sell.

In order to get harvey nichols into leeds to head up the redevelopment of the victoria quarter in the late 90's they got a rent free 100 year lease, but now the other units are full of the likes of louis vuitton where the landlords actually make their money.

you don't win friends with salad

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Really? Can't imagine why anyone would subsidize Ramsay. Since when does a millionaire restaurateur need a subsidy?! Odd... Are you sure?

yup.

he doesn't need a subsidy, and he doesn't need the headache of trying to operate in such a restrictive environment either. they still haven't got anything like the air side passes needed for their staff; deliveries are a nightmare to get through etc etc. all the same shit everyone else is dealing with, but at a more precise and demanding level.

It's a big promotional boost for T5, not him.

A meal without wine is... well, erm, what is that like?

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i'll bet london to a brick Plane food closes at the end of it's initial term.  It was opened as a headline grabber under huge subsidy.

Not sure it's fair to talk about subsidies in such locations, as it's inevitable the start-up costs will be shared and the calculations when deciding ground rent are fiendishly complicated. Also, Walnuts' contract with BAA is for ten years; an early break could only really happen by mutual consent if the business was not performing.

As promised, here are some pictures (they're linked, for the preservation of bandwidth among those not giving a monkeys):

Subtle branding.

The menu and winelist.

Could you hijack a plane with these?

10 years? not a chance it'll last that long.

I'll give it 3. It's a commercial enterprise, so he won't have a cost plus arrangement; but very conceivably it's a license fee for his name ala Gary Rhodes and restaurant associates; except he's not tied into any of the big contract caterers.

A meal without wine is... well, erm, what is that like?

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Unrelated somewhat to the topic, but was just at terminal 3 dropping off my girlfriend and the food there is absolutely dismal. Our last meal together for a few months was a very unsatisfying meal at Pret. The other options were Three Bells (some sort of horrific 'gastropub'), and Ponti's.

Why are passengers at T5 given higher end options whilst other terminal passengers must eat drivel? I can only assume T5 restaurants are a form of appeasement for the invariable lost-baggage and headache!

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  • 1 year later...

Plane food:

I was passing by, and had 20 minutes, so before I knew it I was in the restaurant (thought I'd have a look first, and then decide, but they immediately got me a table and I thought "why not"). I told them 20 minutes, and they took 22 minutes. Bah. It's fun running through T5.

If you are wondering what the food looks like, it looks like this:

gallery_56017_6764_134386.jpg

That was wild mushroom orichiette in a cream sauce with lardons and three little bits of crisp bacon. The lardons were very good (definitely not from Sainsbury's), otherwise I could have had that in Pizza Express or any other large "Italian"-inspired chain. The pasta was severely overcooked.

The upfront cost was £7.50 (for the "small" portion), but then there was a £1.50 cover charge (which I expected, as it said "service charge £1.50" on the menu) and then another 94p of service charge (which I didn't expect). Bread was served warm and quite alright.

As for whether it will go out of business, all I could see around me were attractive, fashionable 20- and 30-something women, sipping rose alone or chatting. It was fairly full. No kids. I don't think they cared much for the food.

I don't think it's worth it, unless you want the service, slightly nicer seats and tables, and a warm meal (since one no longer gets warm meals on EU flights, unless one pays an extra £200 to be seated in the same seats and be served microwaved horrors). I must say, however, that the cheese sandwich I got on the GVA-LHR leg when I asked for a ham sandwich compared favourably with Pret's.

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Back in the days when I had a travel budget, I went through T5 about once a week. I dined so often at Plane Food I became recognised by a couple of the maitre d's. During a kitchen tour, the first thing I noticed was that there's no naked flame - it's all leccy. One morning I noticed the sausages were pre-cooked and then warmed up. When I asked chef what was going on he abruptly told me that you can't cook a sausage in eight minutes (apparently the time they have from order to plating). Still, despite this, the PF brekkie is jolly good, and for 18 quid it needs to be.

Other visits there have been rather variable. However I do fully support the notion that there should be at least somewhere half decent to eat. PF is definitely better than the fare that you're presented with in the BA lounges, and that includes what's on offer in the Concorde Room (for longhaul First passengers). However, the lure of lashings and lashings of free (and pretty darned good quality) grog in the Concorde and First lounges is often too much, and Ramsay has to wait until next time.

Cheers, H

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During a kitchen tour, the first thing I noticed was that there's no naked flame - it's all leccy.

IIRC it looks like all leccy at El Bulli as well, lots of induction hobs and not a naked flame in sight. Doersn't stop them turning out decent tucker.

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