Getting something to eat during long layovers is a necessary evil. Waiting for flights or connecting flights you're often left with a choice of fast-food joints, pre-packaged foods at high mark-ups. Over the last couple of years airports have started featuring more popular local chains and greater variety. And while I'm still convinced that something is lost in the transition (most notably a nasty Superdawg at Midway Airport) it still makes things interesting. Also, for more interesting posts check out Dennis's posts on airport meals.
Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company - Dane County Regional Airport:
In spite of all my trips to Madison, I'd only flown into the local regional airport once. Mainly because I'd be able to justify a rental car if driving from Chicago, which turns out to be a fairly relaxing drive for me. But I quickly banished the thought of driving from Chicago in February.....moi....the guy from Hawaii who lives in San Diego, dealing with the possibility of snow, sleet, ice, or worse? So there I was at the airport at 1230 for a 430pm flight because that's when the airport shuttle ran. I even skipped lunch so I go thru security and looked for something to eat.....and lo' and behold......there was a branch of the Great Dane right in front of me.
I took this as a sign of sorts.......because of scheduling and transportation issues, I hadn't been able to complete my usual rendezvous with deep fried cheese curds on this trip. During my first visit to Madison, I'd had my first dose of those at the Fitchburg location of the Great Dane.
So even though prices were anywhere from $3 - $5 higher then the non-airport locations, how could I ignore the divine placement of the Great Dane, right?
I must say that these were rather disappointing. The curds were quite hard instead of having a nice gooey texture. These were also on the salty side, not anything like versions I'd had previously.
If you've read my previous post on the Great Dane, you realize that this ain't food for the calorie or fat conscious. With that in mind I went all in and ordered the Brat and Bacon Burger....something I also ate before.
Man, this was greasy, even more greasy than expected and I'd had this before! The grease saturated the roll cuasing it to be a mushy mess. The burger was tough and overcooked, though the brat was decent. Not particularly good eats overall.
The Great Dane Pub and Brewing Company
Dane County Regional Airport
Gordon Ramsay's Plane Food:
Finding out that we'd be flying through Heathrow an acquaintance of mine told me that Gordon Ramsay had a restaurant in terminal 5. He told me that the place has changed the game with regards to airport food. I was indeed a bit curious....we'd seen the brash and bombastic Ramsay on his Kitchen Nightmare show and really wondered......"he talks a good talk, but does he walk the walk?" Since we had four hour layovers in both directions, we thought we'd try something small on our way to Istanbul, if it showed promise, we'd have more on our way back. This seemed prudent, because the prices ain't cheap folks! Personally, I'm not a big fan of Heathrow for a couple of reasons....the signage sucks, this is coming from a guy who has travelled to five continents. They make you sit around in terminal five, which lacks sufficient seating until anywhere from 1 hour to 30 minutes before your flight. Then you have to find your gates. They make you go through additional checks even though you're connecting and charge a rather exorbitant amount for wi-fi. I will say that I find the British accent and slangquite entertaining though. When the security guy wanted a red head who had just gone through the detector to stop you shouted, "hey, you there, GINGER-Girl, please move about to the side please!" Ginger-girl?
The actually entrance to the restaurant can be hard to find initially, but once down that alleyway, everything opens up to a large, wide-open seating area.
We started with something very basic, the Steamed English asparagus, pan fried duck egg , grain mustard dressing (£8.75 - about $16 US at the time).
This was pretty atrocious for a couple of reasons. First that "pan fried" duck egg was cold, had no taste, and the whites were rubbery. It had the look of "buffet eggs", eggs that were cooked in an egg ring, then placed in a hotel pan over sterno to serve during a lunch or dinner buffet. How do I know? I've made these many times during a previous career. The asparagus was tough and fibrous, the lower, very tough portion should have been peeled. The stalks were also severely under-seasoned and the mustard sauce was also fairly bland. I wonder what Mr Ramsay would have said had he come upon this dish at one of his "nightmare" restaurants? Can't fry an egg to order and trim asparagus?
The Crispy Duck Salad with Watercress, chilli, and ginger (£12.50 - over $20 US at the time) was a bit better.
The duck was flavored nicely, sweet, mild five spice flavor, made in the fashion of Chinese style crispy beef. The watercress was nice, though we found some yellowed leaves at the bottom. Couldn't really make out the ginger flavor, but the dressing was nice and we could have used a tad more of it. Still, I'm not sold that this was a twenty dollar salad, even with the airport mark-up.
Gordon Ramsay Plane Food
London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5
Cousin's BBQ - Dallas Forth Worth Airport:
In case you're thinking that I hate all airport food, that's really not the case. During another one of my trips I had a four and a half hour layover at DFW airport. Now I kinda like terminal B, wi-fi is free, there's enough interesting shops to keep me occupied, and I enjoyed most of my meal at Cousin's BBQ.
Cousin's is a DFW chain of six restaurants, so I figured if I had a meal in this airport, it should be here. Since this was Texas, I decided on the brisket.
First off, I found the sides to be mediocre; the mashed potatoes bland and the gravy like glue. The coleslaw needed a favor infusion and the Texas toast was like cold, stale, buttered bread. Not a big fan of the runny sauce either.
But I really enjoyed the brisket, which I found to have a nice, though light smoke flavor.
I felt totally satisfied after this meal. It was probably the best thing I've eaten in an airport in a long time. If I'm ever here again, I'll probably pass on the sides and do a brisket sandwich or something.
In the end, I'm not expecting great food in an airport, decent food that I feel is worthy of the price will do it for me.
Dallas Fort Worth Airport, Terminal B, Gate 28