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Heston at Heathrow - we Test Drive the Perfectionists' Cafe

Heston at Heathrow - we Test Drive the Perfectionists' CafeWhat can you tell me about The Perfectionists' Cafe?

The Café takes its cues from Heston Blumenthal's Search for Perfection TV series and that apostrophe at the end is to indicate that it's the customers looking for perfection here. Or, slightly more down to earth, people who are looking for decent food in a UK airport - often a culinary wasteland.

So what kind of food can we expect? Snail Porridge to go?

Not with this particular restaurant, which has its sights on the everyday traveller. It's an an all-day restaurant with more traditional fast-food staples, but done with more flair than usual. So there's traditional porridge for breakfast, for example, but no snails in sight. However, there are certainly a few Heston flourishes along the way. 

Where is it?

It's in the latest terminal at Heathrow Airport, Terminal 2 - aka The Queen's Terminal. The restaurant is after security, so you'll have to be flying with one of the Star Alliance airlines if you want to eat at the café. So that's United Airlines to start and they'll be followed by Lufthansa, Aer Lingus, Air Canada, Singapore and many others. To check out when an airline starts flying from there, head to the Heathrow website

Once you're through security, you'll have no problem finding the Café which is on the upper floor and has a large clockwork knife above the bar. 

And where should we sit?

It depends how busy the airport is - and how much time you have before your flight. There are lots of counter dining options if you're dining and dashing or some banquette seating at the back if you've actually managed to get to the airport well before your flight leaves.

So if I've got a flight to catch, won't a meal at the Café take too long?

They're aiming to take around 11-12 minutes for each order, so there should be plenty of time to stop by. For instance, the pizzas in their fancy wood-burning oven should take around 60-90 seconds to cook. We'd still say it's worth leaving a little earlier for your flight if you've got your heart set on a meal here as we think it'll easily be the most popular restaurant in the terminal.

And what should I be ordering?

The all-day menu takes in breakfast, sandwiches, fish and chips, pizzas, burgers, salads, smoked salmon, charcuterie and the all-important nitro ice cream. We worked our way through a large chunk of the menu in our pre-opening visit and would recommend quite a few things (and it's all pretty good value too).

  • The full English breakfast (£9.50) was notable for some excellent Stornoway black pudding and - thankfully - comes with Heinz baked beans instead of any home-made nonsense.
  • The pizzas (£10 - £11) are also very impressive and we tried a few of them. Excellent chewy dough and the four cheese was probably our favourite, next to the truffled culatello and mushroom (the favourite of the Fat Duck Group's Exec Chef Ashley Palmer Watts). They're intending to get accreditation from AVPN for these pizzas too. 
  • The best thing we tried was definitely the fish and chips (£14) - particularly for the incredibly crunchy beer batter which has been created through a siphon. There was a lot of talk pre-launch on how this creates a particularly crunchy batter and we have to say that it lives up to the hype. We also liked the touch of spraying the dish with an atomiser of malt vinegar pickled onion juice - designed to give that chip-shop aroma. Very Hestony. This is the dish we're going to be leaving enough time to order again on our next flight out of T2.
  • The one thing we have to admit that we weren't too sure about was the burger (£13) - it was perfectly fine, but we've just had much better elsewhere. We didn't have it with cheese though - which was a mistake. 
  • Finally it's worth pointing out that if you just want something light, you should definitely order a platter of the excellent Hansen and Lydersen smoked salmon (£12.50). 

There's loads more on offer - check out the full menu in the gallery below.

And for dessert?

That's where Heston's inner-Wonka really kicks off with the custom-made nitrogen ice-cream machines taking pride of place at the front of the restaurant. They billow out vapour clouds as the ice-cream is created in seconds and will be the main draw (but aren't made to take away).

You can get three scoops for £5.50 with a choice of three toppings from a huge list that includes popping candy, dulce crunch pearls, Oreo cookies, chocolate shavings, crystallised rose crisps and more. If you are short on time, then you should at least pop in for one of these.  

And drinks?

The drinks also feature a surprise or two and a bit of theatre - particularly with the "Cloud Pourer" cocktails, which see some classic cocktails flooded with a cloud of vapour - A bramble with a merlot cloud (£8.50) or a Rob Roy with a cavendish tobacco cloud (£11.50). Alas we couldn't try these at the time (pre-opening Heathrow rules).

Otherwise, the short wine list isn't the cheapest we've seen (starting at £28) but as it offers a good selection in an airport we'd happily take a higher price point for a decent wine list. 

Overall thoughts?

The Perfectionists' Cafe will clearly be the biggest draw at Terminal 2 for some time. It combines good food at a particularly good price for an airport, while still retaining touches of Heston's eccentricity throughout. If you're heading to the terminal, we'd recommend leaving a little bit earlier and putting the place to the test - at the very least sampling the nitro ice cream. It's another winner from Heston and we wouldn't be at all surprised to see more of these turning up at airports all over the globe.

The Perfectionists' Cafe is in the departure area of Heathrow Terminal 2. Find out more about The Perfectionists' Cafe.

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Prices were correct at the time of writing. Hot Dinners ate as guests of The Perfectionists' Café.