Sign of good things to come..
About a month ago, I visited the much touted Terminal 5 at London’s Heathrow Airport for the first time. The airy, vaulted space is the nicest of Heathrow’s offerings, but that isn’t really a recommendation – Terminals 1-4 set the bar pretty low as these things go. But I did have an opportunity to eat at celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey’s “Plane Food
Let me put it this way, the experience was so good, I just might start flying British Airways again. For those of you who have seen my service-design presentation, you’ll know that this is high praise indeed.
An airport restaurant by design
The first thing you notice is the friendly, attentive staff. There are a lot of them in crisp black uniforms. These are not kids who took a low-paying job that bores them to tears; the “Plane Food” crew is professional, polite, and efficient. And they actually know something about food.
Next, there’s the menu. Real food at affordable prices. And a full bar.
The table is set with good china, decent glasses, and steel cutlery (in a security approved design).
And finally, there’s the layout. For once, a designer has understood that people in airports drag around rolling luggage. Plane Food features ample space between the tables so you can concentrate on your meal and not on keeping your bags from being kicked.
The entry leads visitors away from the hustle of the terminal and into a more relaxing environment.
Great food, superb service
My entire extended family was on its way to Miami from Copenhagen. While the women opted for noodles at Wagamama, my son-in-law, Lars, and I were curious to see what Gordon Ramsey had to offer. After all, most of the world has seen the foul-mouthed chef on one of his various culinary reality shows. Well, Chef Ramsey clearly knows how to create a successful restaurant – even in an airport terminal.
The menu was large and varied – something for every taste, yet wonderfully uncomplicated. Lars (who happens to be a professional chef) opted for pasta, I had a mushroom and truffle risotto. Both dishes were exquisite; the pasta homemade and perfectly al dente; the risotto velvety and with real truffles, not just a few drops of oil.
And our servers were as good as any I’ve met at other restaurants.
The picnic box
For those of us who loathe airline food, Gordon Ramsey has reinvented the picnic lunch. For GBP 11.95, you get a full three-course cold meal in a nifty insulated canvas lunchbox. Just to put this into perspective, Scandinavian Airlines charges just about the same for a tired old cheese sandwich and a canned Bloody Mary on board their flights.
The picnic menu offers a choice of four starters, four main courses, and four desserts. There are options for both vegetarians and meat-eaters (strict vegans are advised to stick to Wagamama).
When returning to Denmark a week later, the entire family bought picnics to take home. Here's mine:
Tiger prawn salad with watercress and soy sesame dressing
Cumbrian honey-roast and parma ham with slow roast vine tomatoes
Chocolate and pecan brownie with crème Chantilly
The picnic box contains everything you need for a great meal, from sauces to cutlery.
UX and the British Airways business plan
FatDUX Creative Director Søren Muus and I are off to the IA Summit conference in Phoenix, AZ in a few weeks time. We actually booked on British Airways just so we could visit Plane Food. Hmm…maybe Gordon Ramsey should take over beleaguered BA CEO Willie Walsh’s job for a while. Who knows what might happen?
Full menus, prices, cocktail lists, and more photos can be found at Plane Food's website