As the previous holder of the UK national dish title (overtaken by chicken tikka masala in 2001), you’d think that it’d be a doddle to find decent fish and chips in London. With a few exceptions (The Golden Hind, Toffs, Hook and Two Brothers spring to mind), the sad reality is that what often arrives tends to be a big plate of disappointment: greasy batter, bland peas and soggy chips. In my own search for perfection, I thought I’d leave some extra time ahead of a business trip to Frankfurt to see if Heston Blumenthal’s The Perfectionists’ Cafe has found the winning formula.
The ambiance and decor
For an airport restaurant, especially one located in Heathrow’s T2, the cafe was surprisingly calm. As you enter, there’s a long table surrounded by high stools, perfect for grabbing a quick drink. Booths line the left-hand side, with tables and chairs occupying the middle. Like the atmosphere, the colour scheme is relaxing: teal leather covers on the chairs, maroon for the booths, gold fittings and marble tabletops. Being on the upper deck, light streams in from the windows, making the whole place feel bright and airy.
The cafe’s premise is to serve high-quality British classics throughout the day such as the Full English, pizza, steak and burgers. I had already zoomed in on the Extraordinary Fish and Chips, and with a name like that, expectations were very high. And they were exceeded: full marks for satisfying the senses. Firstly, this is one attractive dish. Then, to mimic the “real chippie” experience, it’s served with a pickled onion malt vinegar atomizer, which I politely refused since I didn’t want to end up smelling like one myself on the flight. So I tucked in, and beery batter was indeed light and crispy as per the menu’s lofty claim. The fish flaked beautifully on contact with the fork and had a fresh taste. The textural delight continued with the crunchy yet fluffy chips, tangy tartare and minty peas. I ate even slower than usual because I didn’t want to take that last bite.
The hostess and waiters were efficient without being pushy, so there’s no need to sacrifice a good meal for fear of missing flights. Concepts were enthusiastically explained, although when I asked about social media handles, my waiter looked at me as if I’d switched to speaking Russian! He eventually told me I could refer to their Facebook page.
If you’re hungry at Heathrow, my advice is to head straight here as soon as you’ve gone through security. True, I only had the one dish, but this is the perfect example of quality over quantity, so well done to Heston for fulfilling his restaurant brief.
Budget: £16.50 pp (1 main, no drinks, 12.5% service).