London City Airport
I have been sitting on quite a few reviews over the festive period, the temptation of bad TV and Giles Coren’s book proving far too strong, however I have finally caught up and now present a review of my final London meal of 2012. It occurred in the fairly insalubrious surroundings of City Airport before I flew home for Christmas. City airport is a strange place: I have never seen so many blackberries in my entire life, the few women I see look like prize Abu Dhabi brides, everyone looks tired and fed up……no-one is here to jet off for a beach holiday. The eating choices aren’t extensive: the only place you can get hot food other than the City Cafe is Rhubarb, which serves up modern British fayre and sandwiches, they offer main courses like prawn cocktail and beef burger which will set you back between £11.50 to £14.50.
The City Bar and Grill serves mainly French dishes at mid-level prices; its tables are clustered around a big bar where executives in white shirts quaff G&Ts and continental beers (it also sells good quality craft beers from Meantime). The interior is aiming at a modern Gentleman’s club with lots of varnished wood panelling and leather armchairs. It was very busy on the Tuesday night that I ate there and the atmosphere was good (although there is a passageway leading to departure gates right through the middle of the restaurant and it can be a bit unsettling when lots of people rush past to catch their plane).
The menu is split into small plates, including soups, fish and mezze; pasta, and grill (including pork belly, lamb, beef medallions and, for some reason, mushroom tart). Many of the dishes have a suggested wine choice which is a nice touch and will help those in a rush who don’t have time to study the wine list. I wasn’t feeling overly hungry so I ordered the Gressingham duck plate (£13.95) which consisted of home smoked duck ham, foie gras marinated in port and confit terrine with pistachios, all rounded off with fig & apple chutney and crackling. The duck ham was the star of the show – it was full of flavour and topped with beautifully rich fat, I actually believe that the smoking was done in-house because it tasted very fresh. The only disappointing part of the medley was the foie gras in port – I think the port used in the marinade was of poor quality because it gave a rough alcoholic tinge to the foie gras and dominated its flavour. The terrine was very rustic and similar to what I have eaten in the north of France – it had a clean hearty meatiness which was nicely offset by the creamy crumbled pistachios. I also enjoyed the crisp crackling and the tart beetrot jelly that was served on the side. All in all, a very rich, but tasty dish.
For dessert I opted for a pear tarte tatin which came with vanilla ice cream and a rich toffee sauce. The pastry was a tad dry because the tart had been pre-prepared but the flavours were good, especially the toffee sauce and fresh clean pear.
The food at the City Cafe is pretty decent and is very good compared to most airport food; the service is fast and efficient.