The gal is always amazed by the amount of shopping some travellers do at airports – do they NEED all that stuff, and where are they going to put it? More seasoned and regular travellers, flying premium, that is, prefer to head straight for their airline’s lounge. Luckiest are people flying Qantas as all their lounges worldwide are serviced by Accor, and the food is overseen by Neil Perry of Rockpool in Sydney. From the start he went for a pre-flight ‘diet’ of big bowls of different salads. Anyone who knows the Qantas lounge at Hong Kong, for instance, understands that the food display is ten times better than in any other lounge there. I also like what he does in dedicated First Class lounges with only à la carte.
In the Los Angeles lounge, the single-sheet A3-sized menu, currently for Spring, offers signature sandwiches, club, Reuben and a classic burger with Neil’s barbecue sauce. Main plates include Black Angus minute steak with chipotle butter and lime. I went for a starter, buffalo mozzarella with chargrilled radicchio, green bean pistou and hazelnuts. I followed this merely with three dishes of sides, greens with California extra virgin olive oil, sautéed mushrooms with spinach, kale and parsley – and Rockpool mac’n cheese with bacon. This, with a glass of Sterling Vintners Collection Merlot 2015 Central Coast, was a perfect pre-flight meal and I slept as soon as the seatbelt sign was off.
There are sandwiches galore, too, in the British Airways’ First lounge at Heathrow – people seem to find finger food easy eating. For those who must have something hot, the buffet is always heavy on Indian, adding fuel to the belief that curry is the comfort food of the UK. And afternoon tea comes into its own, from 12 noon on. There are big cakes, and scones, with jams, and Rodda’s clotted Cornish cream, as first made by Eliza Jane Rodda in 1890. For the best gourmet tastes, however, the knowledgeable seek out the Caviar House Prunier stand near Louis Vuitton. There, led by a Serbian manager, young staff prepare to customers’ orders, and quickly.
I sat at the horseshoe-shaped bar, and started with balik salmon Tsar Nikolaj, which turned out to be four nuggets with cream cheese and linen-wrapped lemon, and side salad, and four halves of strong-flour lightly toasted brown bread, with a wrap of Netherend Farm butter. I went on to the most delicious whole burratina, topped with 10g of caviar. Heaven. The menu, A4 sized, offers dozens of caviar and salmon ideas, plus best selling shrimp dishes, and drinks include own-label champagnes and waters, and Balik beers. I wondered, yet again, why more luxury hotels dare not offer a simple bar like this (Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong is one exception) and I left feeling in great shape for my flight to Bangkok. AND NOW SEE A CAVIAR HOUSE PRUNIER VIDEO, LONDON HEATHROW T5