decent frenchish at london heathrow’s terminal four. gone are the days when I expect airport food to be mediocre – there are multiple decent chains in the london airport, and even singapore’s changi airport is turning itself out to be more like a mall that so happens to have some runways by the side. this was our last meal in london before we flew back to singapore, and thank goodness it was pretty good as we were in the middle of a great british airways fiasco.
we had got on our original late-night flight from heathrow, woke up after 10 hours of travel time for the customary before-touchdown breakfast, only to be told by the captain that we were on the way back to london due to engine failure – and that we had been on the return route for 6 hours by then. we had to queue up for more than 3 hours to try and get a return ticket home (24 hours after our first one) and by then we were famished, and not very happy people.
the service at cafe rouge is consistently absent-minded and chaotically negligent – I base this on my experiences at both this outlet and the one just outside harrods. they seem to be chronically short on staff, and the ones they do have so flustered that they have no idea who to serve first. but this could be an impression tinted by our grouchiness on the delayed return home, and so you should perhaps take it with a pinch of salt.
thankfully, the kitchen staff don’t seem nearly so chaotic and did a pretty good job of churning out our orders quickly enough, and at pretty much the same time. cafe rouge – as per its name – is made out to be a french bistro, and while I’m not sure how authentic it truly is, the food was good enough for us. after all, it isn’t france, is it?
strewn across our table were steak frites, a soup of the day – very cumin-y tomato and onion, my not-so-traditional salmon niçoise, a boeuf bourgignon, as well as half a roast chicken. the steak wasn’t particularly juicy or tasty, but at least it was cooked as we specified, and I loved the tiny cassoulets that the fries were served in. how cute are those! we asked for ketchup and some brown sauce, and it came in these tiny ramekins. you knew it was pre-dished-out because the sauces were terribly congealed and had quite a formidable skin on them. but then again, you don’t really get ketchup to be classy.
the tomato soup was chunky and very savoury, and quite a fantastic dish actually. we didn’t expect quite so much spice in there – in the form of cumin – and that made the dish rather morrocan/indian, but we had no complains. it was highly soppable with bread. my own salmon niçoise was a nice change from the usual tuna, and it came in a huge serving of vegetables, as well as a hard-boiled egg and potatoes.
I didn’t try the bourgignon, but my grandma said the flavour of the red wine in there was pleasantly intense, and there were quite a few pieces of beef in there. the potato gratin served alongside was obviously full of cream and fat, and really could not be anything but delicious. she really loved this dish – the plate was wiped clean. the only thing we wouldn’t order again would be the chicken. the herbs on the skin made it rather tasty but it turned out quite dry in parts – not very inspiring considering our other mains.
this is a good place to have a meal and sit down to people watch, as well as have a good long meal. there also is ample space for any luggage you might be pulling along. I remember that I wanted to try their dessert menu but couldn’t – and so if you do let me know how it goes – a good tarte tatin goes a long way in rendering a place further in my affections.