Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Concorde Room Dining: Lunch

My first visit to the Concorde room in Heathrow was en route to Mallorca, after our overnight flight from San Francisco, before heading on to Barcelona and a final hop to Mallorca.  While the long flight was lovely, I was happy to be on the ground and get a chance to take a real shower before heading onward.  The spa attached to the Concorde room easily met this need, and I was also able to get a massage, but I was still a fairly blurry eyed traveler at this point.

I didn't take excessive notes or photos of the lounge itself (sorry!), but I did of course focus on the meal, served in a formal, full service restaurant.

Overall, the meal was quite disappointing.  Service was nonexistent, the food was poorly executed and boring.  But, the plating was really impressive, so at least it looked good?  Plus, it was free, so I can’t complain, but … meh.  I had higher expectations.  But the lounge itself was lovely.
Living Room Style Seating.
I started by wandering through the space exploring.  I didn't take many photos, as I felt a bit strange doing so.  Everyone was so civilized in there!

There are a variety of seating options, including really comfortable couches.  The fireplace gave a nice ambiance, although it was not running.  The wifi worked well, always appreciated.

Board Room.
I was told to check out the board room, basically a big meeting room, with computers, and seats from the Concorde as the chairs.  I was a little surprised that the room was empty, but then again, who really needs to have a 12 person meeting in the airport?  The chairs were novel though, they even had tray tables on the backs.
Terrace.
I also went to check out the terrace, similarly furnished to the inside area, but open air to the terminal.  While it is obviously still indoors, it did have a more airy, outdoorsey feeling.  It was a nice vantage point to look down on the chaos of the main terminal, and really appreciate my more tranquil environment we were hiding in.

While I was out exploring, and others were still showering, Emil and Levi ordered appetizers from the Concorde room dining menu while they waited for us to return.

They choose to just get starters, and champagne of course, out in the main area, rather than going into the full restaurant, opting to wait for all of us before being seated for main dishes.  You can order from the same menu anywhere inside the Concorde room, to dine as casually as you desire, so they could have certainly ordered their entrees in the bar area as well.
Buffalo Mozzarella Salad.
"Laverstoke buffalo mozzarella, heritage tomatoes and dressed with Mr. Hugh's Norfolk extra virgin rapeseed oil".

Levi picked the mozzarella salad and clearly loved it.  He said the green tomatoes in particular were amazing.  I didn't get to try any, but the produce looked impressively fresh, particularly the basil.

I thought it was funny that they named dropped the mozzarella and oil maker.  I'm used to that in San Francisco, but at an airport, aren't most people travelers and less likely to actually recognize the brand name?  I really have no idea if Mr. Hugh's is a good brand, but since they are pointing it out, it must be?
Smoked Salmon.
"Severn & Wye smoked salmon, caper berries, shallots and rocket leaves lightly dressed with fresh lemon and herb oil."

Emil ordered the smoked salmon, and devoured his just as fast as Levi did his.  He said it was quite good.  He didn’t eat the caper berries, so I enjoyed those.

And again, with the name dropping.  Is Severn & Wye good salmon?  I have no idea.
Place Setting in Restaurant.
After everyone returned from showering, we moved to the main dining room for a meal before our flight.  We had about 45 minutes before we needed to leave for our gate, which seemed like plenty of time.  Or so we thought.

Service was crazy slow.  Once we were seated, no one came to take our order.  We waited and waited, and finally Emil went to track someone down.  When we ordered, we mentioned that we were in a bit of a rush, and asked for everything to come at once, trying to stress not to bring things in a staged manner, since we didn't have tons of time.  It didn't really work.
Menu: First Page.
The menu started with appetizers: the two appetizers that Levi and Emil already ordered, plus a soup of the day.  No other choices, so we moved on.

Next was entrees, ranging from a classic roast, to a simple burger, with sea bream and pork belly somewhere in between.
Menu: Second Page.
The menu concluded with two more entree choices, the most basic chicken club sandwich and the single vegetarian item, risotto.

It was easy for me to rule out the chicken sandwich, the roast, and pork belly, but I was actually somewhat drawn towards the burger, and of course, I always like seafood.  And ... I do adore wild mushrooms, and a comforting, creamy risotto did also sound pretty good.  Decisions, decisions!

The menu also listed two sweet desserts, and a cheese plate.
Wine Menu: Whites.
We also all ordered drinks when we placed our food order.  The wine list was longer than the food list, and Emil approved.

The drinks, like everything else, took forever to arrive.
Pouilly Fuisse Vieilles Vignes 2001, Domaine Pierre Vessigaud.
Since I ordered seafood, I decided to pick the white burgundy.  It was slightly sweet, nice enough, but not remarkable.
Sea Bream.
"Maldon salt-crusted fillet on creamed potatoes with carrot and honey puree and a jumble of pea shoots and peas".

My seafood tendencies won out, so I ordered the only seafood option, the sea bream.  As did everyone else at the table, except for one.

The dishes all arrived looking pretty good, and beautifully plated.  In the center of the plate, under the fish, was the creamed potatoes.  They were very creamy, decent enough.  Atop the potatoes was the sea bream.  It looked quite good, served skin on.  But looks can be deceiving.  It was very over cooked, dried out, and really not good at all.  It was garnished with the "jumble" of pea shoots, which were fresh and crispy, and quite nice.

On the side was a schemer of carrot and honey puree, which was actually pretty delicious.  Sweet, tasty.

Finally, there were dots of a green substance.  It might have been green pea puree?  I’m not sure, it tasted sorta like green tea, not peas.  It was bitter and strange.

Overall, this looked far better than it tasted.  The fish was the downfall: it was just way too overcooked, not seasoned, and it was questionable quality.  I did enjoy the potato and carrot puree, and the pea shoots, but … meh.
Wild Mushroom Risotto.
"Creamy Arborio rice, flavoured with wild penny bun and portobello mushrooms, finished with truffle oil and shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano."

The one person who didn't order the sea bream picked the wild mushroom risotto, which was my second choice.  He was willing to share a few bites.

His dish was much better.  It was creamy, the rice was well cooked, the mushrooms hearty.  But we were not able to taste the promised truffle flavor.

It was not amazing, but better than what you get in many restaurants, and certainly better than the fish.
Burnt Cambridge Cream
"A baked silky vanilla custard originating in Trinity College, Cambridge in the 1600s, our version is finished with lavender sugar."

We also asked for one of every dessert when we ordered our entrees, and asked for all of them to be delivered as soon as possible, since we realized that we were indeed pressed for time.  They arrived soon after our mains.  The dessert menu had the two sweet desserts and a cheese platter, and we thought we were ordering one of each.  But, no cheese platter arrived for us.  I guess they didn’t consider that a dessert?

We started with the custard, which was actually a reasonable serving size.  When does that happen?  I'm so used to American-sized desserts.  The moment I saw it, I immediately wished we had ordered multiples.  How could four of us be expected to split just two normal sized desserts?

This was my first time having burnt Cambridge cream, and although the name doesn't exactly sound amazing, the description certainly drew me in.  You know that pudding is one of my most favorite things, right?

It was a bit like a panna cotta, fairly creamy, with decent texture, but not much flavor.  I’m not sure where the “lavender sugar” was supposed to be.  There was a garnish of sweet candy, that made the whole dish mimic a creme brûlée a bit, although obviously, the caramelized part was the candy on top, not the top of the dessert itself.  But lavender?  Nope.

It was fine, but pretty boring, and not really anything I would get again.  I have no idea if it was a good representation of burnt Cambridge cream or not, but I'd certainly try the dish again elsewhere.
Treacle Tart.
"A traditional English treat served warm with Cornish ice cream."

The other dessert was another British classic: treacle tart.  I think this was my first treacle tart too, but I was familiar with the concept of it.  Plus, you know me and my affinity for warm pie and ice cream.  This sounded great!

The crust was pretty generic, dry, boring.  Basic shortcrust, so not flaky.  The filling was a good consistency, but was really just sweet.  It had nothing else to it, no depth of flavor, just overwhelming sweet.  Perhaps that is how treacle tart is supposed to be?  It somewhat reminded me of pecan pie, just without the pecans.

On the side was Cornish ice cream, another first for me.  What is Cornish ice cream?  Apparently just ice cream made with Cornish clotted cream.  It was creamy enough, sweet, but just ice cream.

The top was drizzled with something sweet (probably light treacle?), which I liked with the ice cream.  The whole dish was served over a crumble, which added a good crunch, but it was a bit odd to have a slice of pie on top of a crumble.

No component of this was great on its own, but a bite of ice cream, with some crumble, and a drizzle of sweet syrup wasn’t bad.  But not worth getting again.
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