For those flying First Class with British Airways, the Concorde Room in Terminal 5 Heathrow is a reason to get to the airport early.
As well as the possibility of a treatment in the Elemis Spa, the Concorde Room has its own a la carte restaurant for dining, as well as a quieter and calmer atmosphere than the Galleries Lounges, which can become very busy at peak times of the day.
Access to the lounge is either via the elevators you use to access the First and business Galleries Lounges, or via a discreet door to the right of fast track security.
Just show your boarding card – if you’re First, you get to walk through, if you are “just” gold or flying business class, you will be sent on the long walk back to the escalators, down a floor, then back again to come back up to access the lounges.
One exception to this is if you are a Gold Executive Club members who has earned 5,000 Tier Points, because then you get a Concorde Room Card.
Assuming you’ve made it through the door, you show your boarding pass once again, usually are greeted by name, and then walk through into the lounge.
There is free wifi in the Concorde Room, and a wide choice of newspapers and magazines, a flat screen TV by the bar where last summer John Cleese was watching the cricket, and the wines on offer are on display.
FOOD AND DRINK
There are menus on the tables in the lounge and whatever you choose can be brought to wherever you are sitting. Alternatively you can sit down in the restaurant area, which is what I wanted to do this time.
The dining area is to the right as you walk towards the terrace, opposite the bar. I went straight there and within a few seconds a member of staff asked me if I was dining alone, and then found a table for me just by the entrance. There was then about a five-minute wait before someone came to serve me. They apologised, but it was still lunch and I think the restaurant was full and they were busy. My sparkling water when it came wasn’t very cold, so I asked for some ice which was bought.
The menu here hasn’t changed for many months (I looked at it only a few weeks before, but also checked online). I should have asked if there were any specials, but instead just chose from the menu. The menu was as follows:
- Wild mushroom soup
- Caesar salad with British chicken breast
- Somerset Goat’s cheese, caramelised red onion and baby spinach salad
I had the goat’s cheese salad which came in only a few minutes and was delicious. (Apologies about the photography using my phone, which could probably make anything look unappetising.)
- British Daube of Beef served with creamed potatoes and fresh herb salsa
- Smoked haddock fish cake: MSC certified smoked haddock served with poached Staveley farm free range egg and balsamic roasted tomato
- Slow roasted British Chicken Supreme: pan seared British Chicken breast, fondant potato, and confit carrots, with a ruby port jus.
- Birchstead 21 day aged BA Burger – grilled prime 21 day’s aged british beef served with sea salt and cracked pepper wedges
- Panzanella: roasted vegetables, buffalo mozzarella, rocket, pesto.
The burger and chips were also very good, I thought, though I’m no burger expert.
- Elderflower panacotta with seasonal berry compote
- Delice Choclate Opera: chocolate and almond opera with passion fruit sorbet
- British cheese board – Cornish Yarg, Long Clawson Stilton and Westcombe 18 month Cheddar with quince jelly.
I chose the pannacotta and didn’t regret it.
Of course, the background to all of this was the much publicised poor hygiene rating given to both the Concorde Room and Galleries First by the Food Standards Agency (you can read the Daily Mail’s report here).
The caterers involved, Baxter Storey, have apparently taken measures to improve, and certainly when I went through Galleries First the week before, the food looked fine, although I didn’t eat much not having time.
We have to trust the quality of the food we get in restaurants unless warned otherwise, but the restaurant was full, and judging by this meal, which was well-presented, quickly served, and tasted fine, things are on the mend. Time will tell. Or the next inspection.
I wasn’t drinking so didn’t take note of the list of wines. I’d estimate less than half of those in the lounge were drinking, but they may have been saving themselves for their flights.
The whole meal took a little over 30 minutes, and I worked using the free wifi during most of it.
On a previous occasion, I was sitting towards the back of the restaurant and had to listen to someone hold a Skype conversation with someone without a phone or headphones, meaning I could hear both sides of the conversation. This time there was no such disturbance.
In the past, I have asked for a newspaper and one has been brought from the piles in the main lounge.
A lovely couple of hours, with good food, no noise in the lounge apart from quiet conversation and a great start to what often can be a very long journey.