Once upon a time Heston Blumenthal starred in a TV series titled “In Search of Perfection” where he tried to reinvent classics ranging from bangers and mash to fish and chips. The finished products were – to put it politely – rather creative. Then, because it would be such a waste just to let these dishes fade away into obscurity one Dave rebroadcast at a time, Heston leased a space in the renovated Terminal 2 to avoid direct competition with Gordon Ramsay’s Terminal 5 joint, and presumably to promote British food to the long distance travellers that pass through that part of Heathrow.
Well, if I wasn’t clear enough, I really expected The Perfectionists’ Café to be a complete disaster. The warning signs were there: famous TV chef serving food at an accessible price point? Check. Pretentious modernist recreations of traditional food? Check. Heathrow airport? You got that checked. Expecting an opportunity to do a proper comedic review for Palate, I gave myself time to sample all of Heston’s delights before my flight. My experience started well on the comedy front as I attempted to grab myself a seat while a couple of waitresses both tried to chaperone me to a different table. Also, my attempt to get my order taken was rebuffed; apparently only some of the uniformly indifferent staff were authorised to do so.
At this point I was beginning to regret not going to the lounge for a free buffet. Then the Black Pudding scotch eggs arrived. To my surprise, the scotch eggs were warm and the yolks still runny while the accompanying piccalilli was well seasoned and crunchy. Quietly, the words “Waitrose” and “microwave” tiptoed out of my mind, while “rich” and “Fortnum” stepped forward to take their place. Not long after, my Perfect Fish and Chips arrived. The batter that coated the cod was supposedly aerated through a soda siphon for extra crunch, and it certainly showed. The waitress provided a perfume bottle filled with malt vinegar with instructions to spray onto the fish, in order to invoke “the real smell of the chippie.” Though that did not transport me to Poppies or The Golden Hind, it was still a salivating experience.
Unfortunately, Heston’s famous Triple-Cooked Chips were not available, though the regular chips were a serviceable, if not average replacement. The mint-scented mushy peas deserve a mention, which provided much needed refreshment after ingesting all the oil and fats of the fish and chips. Finally, my nitro ice cream arrived. This was similar to two Michelin starred Dinner, albeit without the theatre of having ice cream churned at your table.
if Tom Hanks were to play a character trapped in Heathrow without a valid passport, I think we all know where to find him
In all, this was a surprisingly decent meal. Situated on the mezzanine in Terminal 2’s main concourse, The Perfectionists’ Café affords its diners a view of the terminal while avoiding most of the airport foot traffic. Admittedly, the service was brusque and impersonal, and the service staff might as well have been robots holding iPads. However, the rest of the experience was more than adequate for a high street bistro, and definitely a gem compared to the rest of the airport’s offerings. Safe to say, if Tom Hanks were to play a character trapped in Heathrow without a valid passport, I think we all know where to find him.
by J Khou