Seeking perfection at Heathrow T2 with a British Brexit breakfast

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

T2 GuardianI’m at London Heathrow Airport Terminal 2, en route to Dublin for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby.

Just think, in a couple of years’ time I’ll have to queue with all the other non-EU passengers when I land in Ireland. It’s hard to comprehend, or express, the almost seismic shock this nation is feeling after Thursday’s historic Brexit vote. Heck, on a micro level I’m already feeling it, having just bought 150 Euros for my day’s betting money at a frankly terrible exchange rate.

But as the front page of The Guardian says today, it is “Over. And out.” All the hand-wringing in the world from the Remainers (and I do object to the way so many in the Remain camp are labelling all ‘Leavers’ as racists and/or idiots) will do not a jot of good. Britain, to quote the old Gilbert O’Sullivan hit song, are “alone again (naturally)” though any sense of loneliness will surely be tempered by new leaders and new trade agreements in the future.

Speaking of which, and leaving myself open to the charge of parochialism, what about the future of UK duty free (and of sales in EU countries to UK-bound travellers)? Will it return? If so, when?

Industry lobbyists and interest groups such as the ETRC and TFWA have reacted cautiously to this week’s news. But from a UK (and therefore a UK Travel Retail Forum) perspective, the opportunity is surely obvious. Intra-EU duty free was killed off in 1999 because the principle of the business was considered at odds with that of a single market and fiscal harmony between member states (a Brussels pipedream if there was ever one). That argument has now been removed in the most emphatic and dramatic manner and nothing should be allowed to get in the way of a return to duty free sales to all international travellers – and even the introduction of duty free Arrivals shops. The UK Travel Retail Forum in particular has to recognise and take advantage of the changed reality and start preparing now for a brave new duty free world.

I’m at Heathrow T2, one of my top five terminals in the world. With my flight delayed for an annoying 90 minutes, I scouted the terminal’s many food & beverage outlets for somewhere to have a coffee and some breakfast. There’s no shortage of options but my first choice, The Gorgeous Kitchen, had no obvious charging points (my laptop battery was flat), a heinous sin in my view for an airport F&B outlet. Pity, as it looked really nice inside with splendid views over the airport.

Yo! Sushi appeared to have the same issue. Next stop the rather pretentiously named The Perfectionists’ Cafe (inspired by celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal’s In Search of Perfection TV series and, I’m pleased to say, with the apostrophe in the right place), where I immediately saw a nice multi-charger power base on one of the bar-like dining counters. Just the thing.

t2 gorg 2
It’s not just about the food: If you’re the best airport restaurant in the world in the digital era you surely need to have multiple charging points

t2 gorgI’m not sure they’ve reached perfection here but it’s pretty good. The staff are pleasant (even if my waiter rather naively asked if I would prefer to pay in Euros rather than with my UK debit card) and the atmosphere nicely chilled out.

I had avocado, as crushed as the Remain camp’s dreams, on toast for £7.50, and a Cappucino for £3.25. Value for money? Well I wouldn’t complain if it were not for the stone cold ‘poached’ (almost raw) egg that accompanied the avocado, while the rather grim-looking grilled tomato looked as lonely on the over-sized plate as David Cameron did outside Number 10 on Friday. A true British Brexit breakfast.

Still, it’s a really decent, open and bright dining environment. The Australian couple next to me love it, and start chatting to their friend on Skype about the EU shock. “No-one here can believe it mate,” says the man.

Nor can we mate. Nor can we. But we better all learn to live with it. Over. And out.

T2 perf yolk
As the Bee Gees sang, I started a yoke. But I didn’t finish it (nor did the chef).
t2 perf 1 (2)
Not perfection but pretty good

 

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