When Gordon Ramsay’s “Plane Food” restaurant opened at London Heathrow Terminal 5 a little over ten years ago, the arrival of an airport restaurant bearing the name of a well known chef wasn’t the only innovation.
Plane Food also introduced the concept of the dedicated onboard “picnic”.
That wasn’t the first time the concept of bring your own catering entered into the consciousness of the travelling public. Readers may recall industrial action at BA’s Heathrow catering provider Gate Gourmet in the summer of 2005 which resulted in months of very limited catering on short-haul flights. Retailers at Heathrow did a roaring trade as passengers spent their free meal vouchers in the terminals. As free catering offerings in the air have diminished over the past ten years, it also proved to be a prescient move.
Having never been a great fan of the second meal service in any cabin on BA long-haul flights, which is usually some variant of Afternoon Tea, it was high time to try out a Plane Food picnic. So here we’ve road tested a picnic on a transatlantic flight from London Heathrow in World Traveller Plus.
Ordering A Picnic
You can’t miss Gordon Ramsay Plane Food as you exit the South security lanes at Terminal 5.
You can order a picnic at the counter which is immediately at the entrance. Here is the current menu. You can choose from one of three starters, mains, and desserts that are displayed in cabinets behind the counter. You also have a choice of a bottle of still or sparkling water. There is one set price of £18.50. Don’t forget to pick-up cutlery!
Only if you are Victoria Beckham can you acquire one before even entering the terminal.
Your picnic is encased in an insulated zip-up case about 30cms by 23cms in size.
Each item is plated separately with a plastic casing. As on this flight, I was seated in an exit row it had to go in the overhead bin for take off, where you need to make sure it packed appropriately to survive being thrown about whilst the aircraft hurtles towards 38,000 feet.
Here is the picnic in the air:
– A starter of potted salt beef brisket with grain mustard, prosciutto ham, piccalilli and rocket
– A main of poached chicken breast, basil pesto, grilled portabello mushroom
– A dessert of fruit salad
Is It Worth It?
It tastes good. There are protein rich options for the starter and main which are substantial and filling. They are also better options towards the end of a long-haul flight, as opposed to the typically carbohydrate heavy options of sandwiches you receive from BA. And, if anything, another serving of food does help pass the time in the air.
In World Traveller Plus there is more than adequate space to unpack the picnic. In World Traveller, it may be a little more tricky, but far from impossible.
If you haven’t tried one out yet, it’s certainly worth giving it a go.