Gordon Ramsay. I can’t think of any other chef that has gained such a level of fame (and notoriety) than the hot-headed Scotsman. From his humble roots, Ramsay has risen to command three Michelin restaurants, of which very few exist throughout the world. From his British series “Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares” to the US “Hell’s Kitchen”, Ramsay has evolved from a commanding kitchen officer to a worldwide icon. His style is best described as using fresh, local ingredients in unique yet simple dishes to create a satisfying meal. Now that Terminal 5 is fully operational, Ramsay has opened up “Plane Food”, a small but upscale cafe on the second floor of the terminal. The remaining question, then, is how does the food fare?
Nestled right next to the small Harrod’s outlet in Terminal 5, Gordon Ramsay’s “Plane Food” is immediately noticeable with its slick appearance contrasted by a rather oddly placed English mailbox. Whether that’s by design or the Terminal’s odd sense of humor remains to be seen, but it does contrast quite a bit, and actually adds a bit of sophisticated flair to the restaurant. The glass panes, cream colored and posh seats, and the smartly dressed servers all add to the experience. This is a place similar to Ramsay’s “Boxwood Cafe”. This isn’t a five star restaurant you have to dress up to go to and enjoy. Rather, it’s a nice place for travelers from all over the world to come and enjoy some good food. Ramsay describes it as a place that captures the imagination of flight and the joy of air travel (really Ramsay? Joy? What?) To that end, it is also quite effective. The use of glass panes on the sides lets passersby look in and vice versa. Furthermore, the space is not completely enclosed. The lack of ceiling opens “Plane Food” up to the terminal itself, and really opens the restaurant to the huge expanses of the area. Looking down, diners see the bustling terminals, the airplanes taxiing in and out, etc. Quite a bit of real estate, to me.
For starters, I chose a simple cauliflower soup. Creamy in texture, it looked simple enough, much like many of Ramsay’s recommendations in “Kitchen Nightmares”. However, to me it seemed too plain for my palate. Cauliflower certainly is not the most flavorful vegetable in the world, but to be honest, this was terribly bland. I felt nothing compelling about the soup, and it was as if it was just churned out instead of made with some passion and care. I left the starters alone, hoping the main courses would be better.
The great part of going to a restaurant with a group is that everybody can order different things. This is a quick rundown of some of the dishes that were available.
-Braised Lamb Shank with Whole Mustard Seed Mashed Potatoes
Excellent, excellent dish. The braised lamb was made extremely well, and required only a fork to separate. I loved the texture, and the light mushroom and au jus reduction that was served with the lamb made a perfect complement. The lamb was flavorful, but not overpowering, which is a common problem with many lamb preparations. The dish really had only four flavors or so, which means that many will not have a problem figuring out with each ingredient is. This is a great dish, one that makes going to the restaurant really worth it.
-Croque Madame with Chips
The partner of the Croque Monsieur? I was not too impressed with the simple presentation, but it was effective to arrange things like a club sandwich dish. The sandwich itself utilizes a rare ingredient, quail egg, placed on top of the sandwich and cooked overhard. It gives an interesting, soft taste to what would be a Croque Monsieur (ham, cheese, you know…). This doesn’t seem a worthwhile dish considering the prices at an airport in addition to Gordom Ramsay’s namesake. The quail egg was wasted on the sandwich, as the other elements easily overpowered such a delicate item.
-Fusilli with Prawns and Basil Leaves
A very simple preparation, but in line with Ramsay’s ideals, it holds up quite well. The simple marinara sauce is accented by the strong basil taste, and the prawns were cooked to perfection – not chewy at all. With a tad of parmesan cheese to go on top, this dish was one of the cheaper ones on the menu, and quite frankly, one of the better ones.
Along with the food, I did have an Apple Melon Martini, which the waitress said was their signature drink. Looking at the bar, however, it was a haphazard mix of Bacardi Apple and Midori Liquier. Overall, too sweet for my tastes, and didn’t taste like anything special. OVerpriced, and terrible.
In conclusion, I’m really at a loss with this restaurant. There are incredible dishes like the braised lamb and some of the pastas, but those are balanced by some dishearted attempts at freshining old recipes. I do like the location and the ambience. However, given the price, I will say that those who do want to try “Plane Food” should be very wary of what they choose, and be prepared to spend a bit.
I’d like to see what happens when Ramsay decides to add picnic boxes. These boxes will allow for diners to take a box onto their flights to enjoy a good meal on their way. Here’s to hoping that the sandwiches improve before then, however. Ramsay, if you could check your own restaurants in “Kitchen Nightmares”, you might be a little bit surprised…
**Excellent main courses
**Incredible ambience and location
**Uninspired starters and sandwiches
HOUNSLOW TW6 2GA
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