British Airways Club World LHR – JFK

I don’t know whether it’s me but I always find the meals coming out of British Airways Terminal 5 in London so much better than those on the return leg.  Am I biased or have they nailed the catering at Heathrow Airport?  For a long-haul flight, I’ll always try and save the extra cash to enjoy the benefits of the Club World (Business) cabin.  I don’t think First Class is worth the extra money, you get treated like Royalty in CW, and I know because I’ve experienced both.

Before you book your seats, always check out specific seating options on SeatGuru.  You’ll need your flight date and airline details, whether you fly with British Airways or not.  A community of flyers add specific details to the site through message boards, and plane configuration helps to let you know if you’ll be near a galley, near a potentially banging door or a bulkhead.  It’s a great resource whichever class you fly and has helped me pick the best seat on lots of trips.

Back to our flight on a BA 747-400 with upstairs seats, in the bubble.  I didn’t get a chance to check these out because they were all booked but there are plenty of comments on SG.

Our seats on the outbound were very comfortable and my birthday trip began with a glass of champagne before I’d managed to sit down and a chance to catch up with Ronan and his new wife.

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After take off, out came the full bar and my favourite rose Champagne.  The Champagne de Castelnau Brut Rose is an award-winner with a beautiful salmon pink colour.  It’s super dry and smells of red fruits.  Two glasses of this and I was ready for food.  Feet up.  Movie on, even Scarlett approved.

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A morning flight meant lunch was served just before noon.  We’d taken advantage of the Lounge, but I didn’t have more than a cup of coffee and browsed through the papers so it was welcome.

With all Club World flights, passengers are offered a menu with a full explanation of what’s on offer for the entire trip.  You’ll be asked what you want for your main course and there’s usually a selection of four.

The starter was superb.  A sweet pea pannacotta was of restaurant quality, richly sweet and light, but sadly there was only one plate of it. A fresh plate of green salad is served with a simple vinaigrette.

Pea pannacotta, BA Club World

I chose the slow-braised Herefordshire beef cheek with a cheese-ridden gratin and baby shallots and gingered carrots.  Now it wasn’t the three glasses of champagne that had me thinking this was one of the best airline meals I’ve ever eaten.  It was.  Period.

British Airways, Club World

The dessert wasn’t too shabby either I chose the oven-baked vanilla custard on a sweet pastry with cherry jelly.  Superb.  Often these desserts are gelatin-laden, and this had just the right amount of ‘wobble’.

British Airways, Club World

I swerved the coffee and chocolates and settled down to a film.  My window seat meant that I did have to climb over the passenger’s feet to my right as he decided to have a snooze. It’s a bit of a party trick to try and not bash the extended foot rest if you need to use the facilities or fancy a walk around the cabin.

Next thing I remember the Twinings Tea Room had opened and it was time for Afternoon Tea.

Afternoon Tea, Club World

Antipasti, whilst an option, is not afternoon tea, so I chose the individual sandwiches.  Red Leicester and pickle, truffled chicken and coleslaw and the ubiquitous smoked salmon.

Warmed buttermilk plain and fruit scones came with Rodda’s clotted cream (THE best) and Tiptree Strawberry jam.

Afternoon Tea, Club World

I didn’t manage the macaron, Madeira cake or eclair.

Afternoon Tea, Club World

The return food I’m afraid isn’t worth the time it takes to write and post.  Needless to say, the outbound journey entirely made up for it.

What’s your experience of airline food?

 

 

 

Oceanic Restaurant and Bar at the Radisson Blu, Heathrow Airport

The immediate area around Heathrow Airport is not glitzy or particularly glamorous, in fact it’s like most major city airports, full of industrial units and hotels.  Bath Road runs along the north of the Airport and it’s home to more than 50% of the area’s hotels.  Whilst not the prettiest, it’s one of the handiest places to stay if you have flights arriving or departing at an unearthly or inconvenient hour at Heathrow.  So now I’ve given you a bit of geography, the reason for the post is that I’ve been invited to the Radisson Blu where they’ve revamped their restaurant and bar and have given it a new name.  The Oceanic takes its name from the first terminal opened at Heathrow to deal with long-haul flight departures and for those who don’t remember, it’s Terminal 3.

The food here is inspired by America so you can expect chowders, hot dogs, steaks, lobster, burgers, wings, Reuben sandwiches pretty much anything you’d see on any decent menu across the pond.  I’m told the breakfast is something else – French toast with cured back bacon, bananas and maple syrup, waffles with cured back bacon, peaches and maple syrup and the US breakfast staple steak with your choice of eggs – but I’m not invited to spend the night, so I take the staff’s word for it.

They’ve also experimented with hard shakes – milkshakes with alcohol – but buyer beware, these things are lethal.  They look pretty, taste amazing, but they also allow your legs to relax which is unhelpful if you have to walk anywhere. The two guys in charge of the bar will talk you through the menu with great knowledge, all you need to do is pull up a seat. The non-alcoholic shakes are a treat for visiting kids and the chocolate and peanut butter and strawberry and vanilla shakes are made from fresh, quality ingredients.

When you enter the bar the first thing you see is a large circular island bar and an impressive glass installation, all anemones and glass bubble beads, dangling precariously above your head.  Plush turquoise fabrics and comfortable seating compliment the dark wood and brass-railed interior.  The decor could have gone one of two ways and thankfully the Hotel bosses decided sea theme.

Their cocktail menu reflects the decades, serving cocktail classics such as the Mint Julep (1800s), Clover Club (1900), Air Mail (1940) and bringing their repertoire right up to date with the Cosmo and these are the two barmen who you’ll no doubt encounter.

The ‘hard’ shakes are impressive and do not scrimp on quality alcohol.  We were given the opportunity to make our own and here’s the Rum and Oreo Crumble which consists of Bacardi 8 year old rum, vanilla ice-cream, crushed Oreo cookies, ginger syrup and a dash of Guinness.

My favourite was the Lemon Cheesecake containing milk, Limoncello, a little cream cheese and a digestive and tasted just like a liquid slice of a thick and creamy desert. As if that wasn’t enough, we were let loose in the bar to create some of the classics.

More than a little merry (my photos get worse) we’re treated to sample the restaurant menu. It’s incredibly busy for a Tuesday night and it becomes clear that not all diners are Hotel guests. I later discover that residents from other airport hotels on the same road come for dinner here and it’s a popular destination for locals both in the week and at weekends.

A tasting trio of starters arrive – corn chowder, sticky ribs and a Maryland crab cake. All of which I’d recommend on a larger scale.

I order a fillet steak £28 (served with homemade fries and a choice of garlic butter, béarnaise sauce, Café de Paris sauce, peppercorn sauce, Roquefort sauce or Oceanic mustard and bourbon cream sauce) and it’s cooked perfectly, the large tomato that dominates the plate, sadly isn’t and remains hard in the centre. The Chef’s salad (£3.50) which I asked for instead of the fries was large for a side dish, although I found no lettuce in the bowl, but it was tasty nonetheless.

For dessert, a trio tasting plate of custard pie with salted caramel ice cream, flour-less chocolate cake and a white chocolate cheesecake and tasted as good as they look here.

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If you’ve got a few hours to kill before a day or early evening flight and fancy a place to chill out that’s not the Airport, then this isn’t a bad choice at all. The Hotel is served by quite a few buses and if you mention you’re going to the Hotel the ride is free. The Resort Hoppa is a charged service. If time isn’t on your side, Heathrow taxis are plentiful.

All day dining – 6.30am to 11pm

For those who live closer to the Airport and want somewhere a little classy and less clubby to spend a Friday or Saturday night, you can have dinner at the Restaurant and have a dance after when their resident DJ starts spinning discs from 10pm.

And, if you want someone else to cook your Christmas Dinner, let the Hotel do it for you. On Saturday 25th December, they’re putting on a fabulous menu which includes a cold buffet and Chef’s Carvery, dessert includes Christmas Pudding and a selection of gateaux, all for a rather reasonable £56.00 per person.

Here’s what’s on offer at the Oceanic and to make sure you don’t miss out, you can sign up for regular offers.

Parking available on site.