While the promise of a favorite restaurant at the end of a flight can be incentive enough to get through a long day of travel, eating at the airport can be just as rewarding. Airport restaurants these days feature menus by some of the world’s top chefs—like Gordon Ramsay, Andrew Carmellini, Heston Blumenthal and Rick Bayless—with elevated concepts and cuisines that span the globe.
Vancouver International Airport
Located before security and within the Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel, directly above the U.S. departures terminal, Globe@YVR offers panoramic views out floor-to-ceiling windows and Pacific Northwest cuisine and sustainable seafood. Breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner (as well as a children’s menu and a three-course tasting option) are all available. Mornings feature a buffet and specialties like a West Coast seafood omelet, while a new dinner menu debuting in early May will highlight items like fennel-pollen-seared scallops with orange-glazed duck confit, aged balsamic, juniper and baby cress; lobster and prawn spaghetti; and 24-hour-braised short ribs with Yukon gold mashed potatoes and seasonal baby vegetables. Go for desserts like sticky toffee pudding, organic chai-spiced carrot cake and a selection of cheeses from British Columbia. Wines hail from the region’s famed Okanagan Valley and around the world.
Located on the departures side of Terminal 5 at London Heathrow, Gordon Ramsay Plane Food has an all-glass front elevation that provides direct views onto the runway. Breakfast (served till noon) features everything from porridge with apples and raisins to a classic English breakfast to eggs Benedict (both Norwegian- and Florentine-style). At lunch and dinner the choices include sausage-and-spring-onion mash, spiced chicken-cashew curry and four types of dry-aged British beef. There are also two- and three-course express menus, prepared in (respectively) 25 and 35 minutes, as well as a “plane food picnic” to-go menu (available from 7 A.M. to 9 P.M. daily), with a choice of appetizer, main course and dessert. If you really want to settle in, the restaurant has reservable areas for preflight cocktail parties or business meetings.
Inspired by a 2006 BBC television series called In Search of Perfection, which followed the research work of British superstar chef Heston Blumenthal (pictured here) and his development team, Blumenthal’s new Perfectionists’ Café will open in June at London Heathrow. Located immediately after security, where passengers enter the departures lounge of the airport’s newly redeveloped Terminal 2, it will celebrate some of Britain’s favorite dishes and embrace an element of culinary discovery (such as, for instance, hamburgers made by grinding the meat grains in the same direction to maximize juiciness). Fish and chips will be coated with an outstanding crunchy batter, and pizza will be baked in the airport’s first wood-burning oven. Expect fast, informal service.
Hong Kong International Airport
Hung’s Delicacies, located on level three of Terminal 2 at Hong Kong International Airport, is a branch of the Michelin-starred original that specializes in classic braised meats slow-cooked in a secret blend of spices. Snacks include Cantonese-style spiced beef shank and boiled egg and sliced cuttlefish, all in chef Hung’s signature “lou seoi” sauce, a stock resulting from the slow cooking of more than ten kinds of herbs. Soups, which vary daily, are homemade and serve three to four people, while seafood dishes include cold crab and panfried pomfret. There are also vegetarian options, such as "goose" made of bean curd, congee, noodle and rice dishes and braised vegetables in red marinated-tofu sauce.
MORE: Hotels With Live Music