When I eat at an airport, it’s usually for a quick meal before the long queue at security. But what if you knew that you could have an out of this world experience before you fly around the world? Step away from the buzz of Heathrow Airport and experience the craft of Asian and French fusion within the impressive La Belle Époque.
The high ceilings and elegant space transported me into a whole other world. From the first host, right through to the end where we met the chef, La Belle Epoque was an unforgettable experience. A tasting menu with a global wine list to match brings an experience to impress its diners to the ‘Golden Age’. I completely forgot I was in one of the world’s busiest airports due to the exceptional level of class and elegance, La Belle Epoque made me feel as though I was dining with royalty.
In France, the Belle Époque was the “golden age”, between 1871 and the outbreak of the First World War, and it seems fairly fitting that what proved to be a golden restaurant has taken its name from such a period. La Belle Époque, set in Sofitel at Heathrow’s Terminal 5, serves up French dishes made with a truly innovate approach, and weaved with soft Asian undertones. It has earned 3 AA Rosettes: a coveted culinary accolade.
Attention to detail comes from the first impressions, where we began with a delicate nibble. The marshmellow’s strong peppery flavour and texture was complimented by the fresh and light ricotta, well balanced and garnished.
Following along, we were presented with a dish that set the precedent for the rest. The sea trout was carefully dressed with cucumber, its subtle flavours overtaken by the horseradish and caviar yet a wonderful delight. The fresh Sauvignon was a light, perfect partner.
The next dish was creative and one of my favourites. The smooth, creamy ballontine was perfectly wrapped, surrounded by grilled asparagus which provided the right crunch to round it off. The Marsanne was soft and citrusy, harmonising the chicken.
This was an immaculate and elegant dish that I still give high appraisal. As a novice to frog’s legs, it was a crisp and wonderful flavour. On the delicate flavours of the velouté pool sat the deliciously sweet and distinct lobster. This is one dish I highly recommend though a difficult choice given the high quality in all the dishes.
The nutty yet sweet pigeon was a delight to follow on. Served slightly pink as pigeon should be, the smoking flavours weren’t too intense. The yolk and truffle fusion highlighted the craftsmanship on this dish.
By this point we had to take a break because though the small, the dishes were incredible and rich. The crisp skinned yet tender breast was surrounded by a jus that added to the burst of flavours brought together. The agnolotti was a subtle addition but unmissable. A fine red, the Rioja was the right choice to pair with the duck.
The blackberry was fantastically artisanal, a strong partner to the bavarois, a gelatine and whipped cream French dessert. Soft and delicate yet creamy the dessert was not too sweet or too rich.
My favourite way to end a meal is with chocolate. The terrine was a wonderful slab of rich and silky chocolate. The orange and elderflower sorbet provided a fresh taste to round off an incredibly superb meal.
The meal was superb – beautifully presented and fantastic flavours. The presentation of each dish alongside the thorough dedication and partnership between the chef and sommelier to present flavours and perfectly partnered wines is unrivalled. The vast range of different meats ensured that I tried a bit of all they had to offer, and if I could, I would arrive at the airport even earlier just to indulge here more. Whilst they may see a lot of hotel/airport trade, it is one definitely worth venturing out for. I’d like to thank the entire team for their thorough skill and dedication to creating an unforgettable experience.
La Belle Epoque
Terminal 5, London Heathrow Airport, Hounslow, TW6 2GD