Airports are often considered hubs of culinary iniquity, with dull décor and equally uninspired food. However, a significant number of airports are attempting to change this view, appointing chefs from Michelin-starred restaurants and top interior designers to create stopover-worthy eateries. Gastronomes are willing to travel for a great meal – just check the Noma waiting list – so why not begin the culinary adventure en route?
I love Paris by Guy Martin
French chef Guy Martin has created an ode to Paris in three delicious parts: a fancy sandwich counter, a Champagne bar and a 70-seat restaurant. Martin, of two-Michelin-starred Le Grand Véfour, devised a menu of French bistro classics such as pot-au-feu and blanquette de veau, while India Mahdavi designed a sophisticated space worthy of the French capital.
Terminal 2E, Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris, France
One Flew South
Feeding the 100 million-plus passengers who pass through Hartsfield-Jackson airport terminals are more than 120 eateries, including burger joints, taquerias and the ubiquitous Starbucks, but One Flew South is the airport’s first upscale restaurant. Former head chef Duane Nutter created a menu of contemporary fusion Southern food, described as “Southernational”, such as miso barbecue rib eye and seared scallops with collard greens and crisp shiitake mushrooms.
Terminal E, Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, Atlanta, United States
Retreat from the airport frenzy to the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver Airport where Globe@YVR has tranquil views of the mountains and runways. Here the best that the lush Pacific Northwest has to offer has been plucked and placed squarely on the menu. Line-caught halibut, local Black Angus beef and pork from (the excellently named) Chilliwack are all prepared with a vaguely Mediterranean skew, with hints of Asian and Southern American for good measure.
Fairmont Hotel Vancouver Airport, Vancouver International Airport, Canada
Regional Swiss food is the basis of local celebrity chef Benjamin Luzuy’s menu. It’s divided by the four seasons and into four cooking techniques: pickling and preserving, steaming, high-heat cooking and gentle cooking. For example, on the summer menu there’s smoked duck with pickled beetroot, lightly steamed crayfish, roasted skate wings and slow-braised veal cheek.
Geneva Airport, Switzerland
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The Gorgeous Kitchen
Four glamorous chefs (one of whom used to prepare the comestibles of Claudia Schiffer) are responsible for The Gorgeous Kitchen, which promises healthy dishes using quality produce as well as “great British hospitality”. There’s a proper English breakfast with gourmet sausages and black pudding, colourful salads and strawberry and elderflower trifle.
Terminal 2, Heathrow Airport, London, United Kingdom
Not only does Top Air have a view of the Swabian Alps and the runway, this Michelin-starred restaurant also serves out-there dishes such as foie gras ice-cream. Chef Marco Akuzun has been flying high since assuming the position of head chef of the fine-diner in 2013. This isn’t the place for a rushed meal before boarding – a three-course meal will take some time, and perhaps don’t plan to fly on the night you try the six-course dégustation.
Stuttgart Airport, Germany
Renowned Spanish chef Carles Gaig helms this sleek, airy restaurant. The menu is adapted from his Michelin-starred Barcelona eatery, Restaurant Gaig, with the busy traveller in mind. Catalan classics such as cod fritters, Catalan crème and slow-braised beef cheeks make the cut but there are also quick, tapas-inspired options such as local jamon (ham) and pa amb tomàquet (toasted bread rubbed with tomato and topped with anchovy) for passengers in a hurry.
Terminal 1, Barcelona Airport, Spain
This restaurant joins chef Shannon Bennett’s stable of cafés around Melbourne and offers takeaway meals, snacks and pastries as well as sit-down options. There’s a daily soup special, a Wagyu beef burger and a brunch menu to rival Degraves Street. The Vue Plane Box is an onboard picnic that changes monthly – at the time of writing, passengers could feast on hummus, grissini, broccoli and tabouli salad, lamb kofta on steamed brioche and orange blossom savarin for dessert.
Terminal 2, Tullamarine International Airport, Melbourne, Australia
Gordon Ramsay’s Plane Food
Heathrow Airport has put some real muscle behind its dining offerings, with big names attached to several of its restaurants. The eternally apoplectic Gordon Ramsay is the brains behind Plane Food, which offers everything from tea and scones right through to a three-course express menu. Dishes include burgers, pasta, a Japanese-inspired selection, a kids’ menu and the Plane Picnic – a three-course meal packed in a cute little bag to take on the flight.
Terminal 5, Heathrow Airport, London, United Kingdom
Old-school authenticity is what gives this sushi spot its place on the list. Take a seat at the counter where white-coated itamaes (sushi chefs) plate up slivers of salmon, tuna and other delights of the sea before your eyes. The décor, service and, most importantly, food are nothing less than any salaryman would expect in downtown Tokyo.
Terminal 1, Tokyo Narita International Airport, Japan
The Perfectionists’ Café
Inspired by experimental chef Heston Blumenthal’s show, In Search of Perfection, this spot aims to create favourite foods, quick smart. Snappy options include fish and chips, burgers, pizza and ice-cream. The latter two delicacies saw Blumenthal engage in a battle with airport officials to ensure a wood-fired oven (an airport first) and the liberal use of liquid nitrogen (how else would you make ice-cream?) would be allowed on site. Needless to say, he won.
Terminal 2, Heathrow Airport, London, United Kingdom