Airports win their wings for food

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The Independent Online
Airports now offer some of Britain's best food, according to a new report by Egon Ronay. The food critic says some of the dishes served at Heathrow, Gatwick and Edinburgh rank with finest available in London.

According to the report:

Breakfast at Harry Ramsden's fish and chip restaurant at Heathrow is as good breakfast at Claridge's;

The fruit slice at Metro in Gatwick south terminal compares with the pastries at the Cafe Royal;

Doughnuts at the Upper Crust in Edinburgh are as tasty as doughnuts at Harvey Nichols.

More than four years ago the British Airports Authority commissioned Mr Ronay to raise the standard of food and catering at its seven airports.

Inspectors test the quality of all food and drink at the BAA's 130 restaurants and snack bars at least once a month, and Mr Ronay says there has been a steady improvement in the quality of catering.

Earlier this year he compared food and drink at Heathrow, Amsterdam, Paris and Frankfurt and said the British airport was streets ahead. "These exceptional results are an indication that the sustained effort of four- and-a-half years has borne fruit," he said. "The majority of the 130 restaurants have improved remarkably."

Catering outlets are given marks for quality, service and style under the testing system. The best earn an "exceptional" mark of three chef hats for quality which they display.

Mr Ronay yesterday called for managers at restaurants such as McDonald's and Little Chefs personally to taste food before they offered it to the public. Mass catering was probably the only industry where a final quality check before sale was not mandatory, he said.

Writing in a new brochure to be available at airports, he said: "Some catering bosses on top wear blinkers made of balance sheets. It's the management who must make the quality check, not the public."