Airports around the world are starting to change their food options. Travelers used to crappy food on the plane no longer desire to eat bad stuff as well on the ground. The airports are changing, adding more gastronomic options for the savvy traveler. Over the last few years, some of the world’s most famous chefs have opened restaurants at airports.
New York’s LaGuardia has made the move to fancier eating options, not dissimilar to the airy, loungey JetBlue terminal at New York’s JFK airport where you can enjoy mushroom and pepper salad with fried rosemary (the menu was designed by Del Posto’s Mark Ladner) at AeroNuova while vintage Italian movies screen overhead. Gordon Ramsay has opened Plane Food at London’s Heathrow (whiskey pannacotta!), Rick Bayless is installed at Chicago’s O’Hare… soon it’ll be hard to tell the difference between people waiting for a flight and people waiting for a table.
Beijing Airport’s Langham Place has impressive chefs galore fashioning delicacies at the various restaurants. Ramping it up is Geneva Airport’s Altitude restaurant with two chefs who have received Michelin stars for their city-based operations. Not to be outdone, Top Air restaurant at Stuttgart Airport is actually a Michelin-starred restaurant in its own right.
Food-mad Melbourne, Australia, is swiftly getting on board the phenomenon. Shannon Bennett of Melbourne’s lauded Vue de Monde, has opened the whimsical Cafe Vue at Melbourne Airport where you can sit with a glass of sparkling and a neat little ‘lunchbox’ of four small courses. Another chef, Raymond Capaldi, has crafted the menu of Plonk, a wine bar that aims to capture some of Melbourne’s famous laneway culture.
And while there’s a whole raft of new eateries peppering the freshly renovated LAX, for my money nothing beats a final meal at Encounter. Housed in that Jetsons-tastic building, it serves perfect pre-flight food – bright fresh salads, free-range chicken dishes – and cocktails. And you can watch the planes come in.
So things are changing, and for the best. Hopefully one day all the big hubs will have some gastronomic alternative to the burger and fries. I am dying to see what they’ll do in Paris…
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