Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Concorde Room Dining: Breakfast

Last week, I reviewed a nicely plated, but mediocre, lunch in the Concorde room at the Heathrow airport, where I stopped en route to Mallorca (and then ultimately Zurich for a business trip).   On the way back, I also swung through London, spending 1.5 very quick days at my office there, before heading back through Heathrow.

We again headed straight to the Concorde room, now my second time ever in the premium lounge.  On our trip through Heathrow before we were there midday, and didn’t have much time, so I didn’t get to fully explore.  This time,  we were originating in Heathrow, and made sure to have extra time for the lounge.  Also, our flight was at 11:30am, so the lounge was in breakfast mode, not lunch/dinner as it was previously.

The space, as before, was very welcoming, although far more crowded earlier in the day.  There was only one free couch in the entire place when we arrived.

Overall, I felt about the same as my previous visit: the space is great, but, the food choices leave much to be desired.

Lowlights: The Concorde room aims to serve and pamper, and as such, they don’t have any buffets, or even little snacks you can help yourself to.  Since I like to snack, and to try a little of this and a little of that, it isn’t the style that appeals to me.  Of course, I do appreciate having a menu of made-to-order items, that can be ordered in the sit down restaurant area or out in the main lounge, but this time, I really wanted to just be able to gorge myself on pastries from a buffet, and they did not offer that.

Highlights: What the Concorde room does offer however is calm and tranquility.  It is very quiet and subdued.  I noticed this on my previous visit, but particularly once I went out lounge hoping (more on that next week!) I realized how striking it was.  Everyone in the Concorde room is polite, civilized, respectful of the space and those around them.  A complete contrast to the entire rest of the airport, or, any airport really.
Breakfast Menu.
When I visited the Concorde room on my earlier trip, it was midday, so they were serving the lunch/dinner menu.  This time, it was breakfast.

The breakfast menu was full of made to order items mostly featuring eggs, like soft boiled eggs & soldiers, kippers & poached eggs, smoked salmon & scrambled eggs, or a full english breakfast with fried/poached/scrambled eggs and British back bacon, sausages, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, baked beans, hash browns, and black pudding.

But I don’t really care for eggs.  There were also simple offerings of cereal, oatmeal, toast, and yogurt.  Meh.

Don't get me wrong, I love breakfast.  I love brunch.  But the primary reason I love these meals is the sweet carb options.  I adore my baked goods!

At the bar area were a few pastries you could help yourself to: just basic croissants and muffins.  I looked at them, and even to me, who loves most baked goods, even low brow ones, they didn’t look remotely appealing.  Completely missing from the menu was any sort of pancakes, french toast, or waffles.  Where were my breakfast carbs?

Since there was literally nothing I wanted, I decided to relax in the lounge for only a few minutes, and then go explore the other lounges, where I knew they had buffets.  Stay turned for that next week.
Decaf Coffee.
I did however order a decaf coffee out in the casual lounge area.  It was fine, unremarkable, which is always saying something for decaf.  I appreciated the attentive table service.

After a little while of relaxing, before I set out on my journeys, Emil decided to move to the formal dining room for his breakfast.  I joined briefly just out of curiosity, not because I wanted anything.
Eggs Royale.
Emil loves eggs, and so he was excited about ordering breakfast from the restaurant.  He ordered the “Eggs Royale”, eggs benedict with smoked salmon instead of ham. (Pro tip: an order of the eggs benedict, or royale, is actually just one english muffin and one egg.  Emil of course knew this, and specified that he wanted two eggs.  If you wanted two eggs and two english muffins, you’d have to request that too.)

I have to admit, the eggs really did look good.  Clearly freshly poached to order,  served with plentiful smoked salmon, probably the same as he’d had on our last visit as an appetizer.

I tried a bite of the hollandaise, since, I can't ever resist a sauce, and it was decent, better than what I've had in many restaurants, although it was a bit more thick and creamy than I am used to.
Portuguese Rice Muffin.
Since I felt lame not ordering anything, I decided to order a Portuguese rice muffin, the only baked good besides the boring croissants.

I really had no idea what to expect, but it certainly wasn’t this.  When it was presented to me, I was told it was the “brioche”.  Once I went exploring the other lounges, these were included in the buffets, and indeed, they were labelled as brioche.  Maybe this wasn't supposed to be a Portuguese rice muffin?

Who knows.  It was served slightly warm, and there were assorted jams on the table, but otherwise it was really quite boring.  It was fluffy, it did have an egg wash making it shiny, but, meh.  No reason to eat this.
BA175s.
Once I returned from my lounge hoping, we had a few minutes remaining, and decided to finish our stay with cocktails.  Yes, it was only 10:30am, but, we were on flying time.

Now, let me back up a little.  The Concorde room had literally *just* started offering cocktails the week before.  Sure, they have always had a great wine and champagne selection, and a full bar, but they didn’t have a cocktail menu, or, as Emil says, they didn’t have staff trained to make "proper cocktails".
Now, they have a cocktail menu, with both alcoholic and non-alcoholic options.  Many sounded interesting, and in fact, many were suited for brunch, like bloody Marys and mimosas, but I had my eye on the BA175, made with pink grapefruit juice, apricot liquor and Tanqueray No. TEN gin topped with champagne.  It was a nice looking cocktail, with an apple-like aroma.

It really was totally appropriate as a brunch drink, in the same way that a mimosa or bellini is, as it was quite fruity and included champagne.  It just happened to have some bonus gin in there too.  I loved how it got sweeter as I drank further and uncovered the apricot liquor, but of course Emil had them dial that down in his glass.

A very enjoyable cocktail, and the perfect way to end my stay in the lounge.
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