Business Traveller visits British Airways’ Olympic-themed venue in Shoreditch.
On my arrival for flight BA2012, I check in and am issued with a boarding pass. I sip a glass of champagne as I wait in the lounge, then promptly at 6.45pm am called for boarding and make my way to my seat, where my in-flight meal is served shortly afterwards.
This isn’t happening in the air, though, but on terra firma at British Airways’ pop-up Olympic-themed venue in London’s Shoreditch.
To showcase the work of the three winners of its Great Britons programme – chef Simon Hulstone, artist Pascal Anson and screenwriter Prasanna Purwanarajah – the airline has built a temporary bar, dining room and cinema at 3-10 Shoreditch High Street (for more information click here).
“Flight BA2012” was launched last week and is open 6pm-10.30pm on weekdays until Wednesday, April 18.
Hulstone’s menu – which will be served on board long-haul flights from July to September – is receiving the full in-flight dining treatment in the dining room, which has been designed to resemble an aircraft cabin complete with a strip-lit aisle and windows showing blue skies.
Purwanarajah’s short film Boy (click here for more information), which stars Timothy Spall and will be screened on flights from April to September, is being shown on a loop in the cinema.
A model aircraft featuring Anson’s dove-themed livery (for more information on the livery click here), which will feature on nine A319 aircraft for a year, is on display in the bar, along with an exhibition documenting the design process.
While the £50 dining experience (comprising a glass of champagne, amuse bouche three-course meal, tea, coffee and petits fours) sold out in three hours on the day it went on sale, guests can still visit the venue for free and order a drink or small plate in the bar, and watch the film.
I dined there last Thursday and sampled some of the dishes Hulstone has created for BA’s First and Club World cabins. The Michelin-starred head chef of the Elephant restaurant in Torquay was mentored by Heston Blumenthal during the process.
His British menu has taken inspiration from the airline’s menus from 1948 (click here for more information) – the last time the Olympics was held in London – using ingredients such as braised beef and fish, popular during the post-war austerity years.
After an amuse bouche of salmon tartare, I had a golden beetroot salad with goat’s cheese and elderflower dressing, then hake pie, parmesan pomme puree and warm tartare sauce (both dishes will be served in Club), and chilled chocolate fondant with a salted caramel liquid centre, caramel sauce and spun sugar topped with hazelnuts (to be served in First).
All were excellent – in particularly the decadent dessert – and I noticed an intensity of flavour that Hulstone has no doubt worked hard to create to counteract the impact being at altitude has on one’s senses of taste and smell. The chef told me the menu incorporated umami-rich ingredients – umami being the “fifth taste” (the others being sweet, sour, bitter and salty) often found in protein-rich foods (see The bite back).
Other dishes on the menu include rillette mackerel dressed on a pickled cucumber carpaccio with sour dough croutes, potted braised beef with potato and horseradish topping served with hispy cabbage, baby carrots and roasted shallots (both in First), and lemon curd cheesecake with raspberry and basil compote (in Club).
World Traveller and World Traveller Plus menus will be available in May, and passengers will also be able to choose from regular British Airways dishes.
At the launch of the venue, Blumenthal said: “Bringing the Olympics to Britain is a monumental occurrence and BA has done an incredible thing in giving three people an international stage.”
Tracey Emin, who mentored Anson, said she was looking for a design “that would make people feel happier and safer about flying, and what better sign than the dove, which is a symbol of peace”.
The livery has received a mixed response on our forum – join the debate here.
Visit greatbritons.ba.com for more information.
Report by Michelle Mannion