I must confess I am a creature of habit when I travel. I get into a routine, putting my passport in the same pocket of my bag, packing in the same way, to ensure there are no nasty surprises. It works for me, and I suspect many other people do the same thing.
I guess in many ways I am the same about my choice of restaurant and cafes that I use when I am travelling. Nothing personal, it’s just that I like to know what I am eating, and especially the quality and reliability of the product. I fly out of Terminal 3 a lot, and I have covered the Oriel Brasserie in this blog before, as well as the Caviar House and Prunier Seafood Bar. So, feeling a little more adventurous, I thought I would try the “rhubarb” restaurant. Having moved from a smaller location in the terminal, the unit has now been open for almost a year, so it was a good time to go and check it out.
The text on the company website says that “rhubarb have created a bespoke concept for Terminal 3 based on approachable and affordable dining. The modern British menu with global influences will have wide appeal, with a huge choice for individuals travelling alone, as well as meals designed for family groups. A fabulous selection of drinks will be available from old classics to new discoveries”. Always good to set out your stall, so my colleague and I set out to see how we would got on.
There is no doubt that the new look is fresh, contemporary and very stylish. The restaurant has a bar counter at the front, with useful power points for travellers along bench seats running around the left hand side and then table in the middle. These were the least popular with most guests, including ourselves, opting for the bench.
We selected dishes pretty much as soon as we arrived and ordered drinks. The fish ordered wasn’t available, but nobody had said at the outset. A little annoying, but not the end of the world. My colleague settled for the Crayfish Po’Boy and I had a couple of small plates, the chicken skewers and some prawn dumplings. A side order of Fries and chunky chips was added. Yum.
The drinks were a Coke and a large tonic water with Angostura bitters. No ordinary tonic waters were available so it was diet for me. The drinks came and there was no Angostura. I asked again and was told they didn’t have any, but that seemed pretty odd as the bar and cocktail list requires it! After much hunting an “antique” bottle arrived at our table. I took a picture as you have got to see it!
Anyway drinks were being appreciated and the food then arrived, very quickly, from the large and rather noisy kitchen in the corner of the restaurant. It didn’t need to be noisy but the team were discussing something in a highly animated way. Not noticeable most of the day I am sure, but given the restaurant was pretty quiet it was actually quite obtrusive.
The food was “Traditionally British with Global influences” as described. Quickly delivered, hot and full of flavour, it did not disappoint. The chicken skewers were particularly good with a coarse peanut sauce being served with them.
Feeling like a little sweetness, we asked about dessert. The menu described “rhubarb” ice-cream and “rhubarb cookies”. We ordered one of each with an Espresso. What arrived was a Purbeck Ice Cream and a plate of 3 white chocolate cookies. The ice-cream was fine, but served in its “cinema style” pot. The cookies were ok, but certainly didn’t excite or delight, and despite the description of freshly baked, they appeared slightly stale.
So what is the point of rhubarb at T3? Well, I guess it does exactly what it set out to do. It deliberately does not offer the branded food experience. It also appears to work quite well. By the time we were leaving to board our plane to Vienna the unit was busy, buzzing and had a good atmosphere.
The bill was £48, or £24 a head, which is chunky given the 2 courses and no alcohol. However there were two things that made it for me – the “antique” bottle of Angostura Bitters that looked like it had been lurking in the back of a cupboard for years and the chunky chips. Sad, but they were the best I have had. Beautifully cooked. Seriously though the Chicken Skewers and prawn dumplings were very good indeed as well. The benefit, I guess, of having a full kitchen and people who know how to cook, not just heat things.
There were a lot of staff in the unit, and if there was any observation, I prefer not to be served by 4 different people. It gets a little hard to “form a relationship” with your server if they keep changing. That, and a little upgrade on the desserts and we would have had a very decent “restaurant quality” meal in an airport terminal, and for that, I am very grateful.
A word of warning though, “rhubarb” at Terminal 3 is not that easy to find, being tucked into the corner behind Duty Free. I suggest you wander the rest first and then go and enjoy the “non brand” that is rhubarb. Just don’t ask for Angostura Bitters with your tonic water!