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Carluccio's at Heathrow, Terminal 5

My wife & I had a very nice dinner there this past Saturday. Yes, it is a now a corporate/chain operation, but the food and service were more than acceptable.

I had the bruschetta w/ tomatoes & arugula and the penne w/sausage. My wife had the gnocchi w/spinach & gorgonzola and a side salad of tomatoe & red onion. The portions of pasta were large and could easily do for two people. We shared a tasty panna cotta for desert.

Carluccio's is located on the 3rd level of Terminal 5, before airport security. I am not claiming it is worth a special trip from the other terminals at Heathrow, but it is certainly a worthwhile option.

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  1. Certainly one of our better chains - been around since the early 90s, but expanded once Carluccio sold it.

    And generally more reliably good Italian food than, say, Jamie's Italian. IMO, of course.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Harters

      Realistically, the odds are any (if not every!) dining establishment (as well as any/every retail store) in an airport terminal these days is going to be part of a chain. That is just the way of the world.

      1. re: DavidT

        I used to write about airport terminals, and it really depends on what country one talks about. There are some fantastic places to eat in airports around the world. For some reason, the UK doesn't seem to be as inventive that way.. when it comes to shops either. I always laugh at how one can find the exact same shops in almost every town here, so why not airports, too?

        1. re: zuriga1

          I'd speculate that the usually poor quality of food at British airports may relate to us being a small country - therefore folk have not travelled far, so don't need to eat before flying. I can think of only one occasion when I've eaten a meal at Manchester and that was when we had a very long delay to the flight.

          As for the shops, both in airports and towns, you're right. Much of our retail industry is now chains and it has seriously killed off smaller retail areas. Long gone are the days when my Mum could do almost all of her regular shopping at the village shops.

          1. re: Harters

            That's a good point about the 'small' country. The only meal I ever seem to eat in an airport here is breakfast.

            1. re: zuriga1

              While Britain may be a relatively "small" country, don't forget that many of the people passing thru Heathrow are in transit either coming from or going to some distant land.

              1. re: DavidT

                Very true David, and unfortunately LHR is losing out in this regard to other airports in Europe.. but that's another story and another runway. :-)

                It would be nice if those transiting had better choices. Gatwick doesn't seem much better, but I think the new owners are working on that.

              2. re: zuriga1

                Maybe, and there are certainly a number of small airports but that doesn't mean that some of us might still need to budget 1.5-2h to get to the airport (particularly if we are reliant on coach and rail).

                But it is really sad how chains are taking over all the village shops. And in some ways sad that there is no initiative for these local shops to be featured at the airports and rail stations.

      2. I agree that Carluccio's is not half bad. It's not half good either but I go there if it's the best option. We have one Kingston, and I like it.. very spacious and good service.

        I recently had the ravioli with sage butter at the one in St. Pancras. Maybe it was that kitchen, but the dish was pretty awful.

        2 Replies
        1. re: zuriga1

          Until they opened in my neck of the woods, the one at Kingston was the only one I'd been in. IIRC, it's in an attractive location - on the river?

          1. re: Harters

            The Kingston branch *is* right near the river, John. It's in a nice courtyard that also houses a Byron's. In nice weather, most people choose to sit outdoors if possible. We also have a small branch nearby in Cobham, but I've never eaten there. I think Kingston has another Carluccio's in the Bentall's department store. Lucky us!

        2. Always good to have halfway decent options at Heathrow.
          I had quite a tasty rib eye at Oriels in Terminal 3 (after security). Frites weren't all that but the steak was cooked properly, and service was very good.

          1. Nice to know about.

            At Terminal 5, I'd only eaten at Gordon Ramsay's Plane Food - two years back whilst waiting for my flight to Edinburgh. It was really good for an airport-based restaurant.

            1. Probably the worst meal I've had in the past 3 years was at Carluccio's in Tunbridge Wells this past weekend.

              - Aranchini cold in the center (obviously frozen -- no problem if they'd been edible, but geez, just leave them out of the freezer for an hour before deep frying).

              - foccachia and charcuterie; bread was a doughy mess and the salami smelled of feet. Worse than that available at my 24 hour tesco express

              - lasagna was a disgracful mixture of disgusting bechamel and who knows what else. I felt like throwing up until coming home, and....throwing up.

              I used to not mind the place and my Heathrow T5 meal wasn't bad, but beware of the TW location. I'd never ever ever go to a Carluccio's unless I have restricted options, and now, might even prefer to starve.

              My english isn't great, am a bit drunk, sorry!

              1. There's some really great discussion about airport dining around the world, including a link to a Daily Meal list of the 31 best options, that we split over to our General Topics board since it was likely to be of general interest: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/904629 Check it out there!

                1 Reply
                1. There's a brief mention in Great British Food magazine that John Torode and Greg Wallace have been contracted to "revamp the food at Heathrow's 73 restaurants and bars. The pair have been given six months to spruce up menus and ensure they champion British produce"

                  Some might wonder how on earth they are going to do that when so many of the outlets are chains serving their standard chain menus.

                  Others might simply mutter "Doomed. Doomed. We're all doomed" * - at the thought of letting the Mastechef duo anywhere such a project.

                  (* Calm down, Private Fraser, it's only a London airport)

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Harters

                    Good God no.
                    I all fairness they'd struggle to make it worse.
                    You make a good point about the chains and their menus.
                    Are they going to have the same menus but with British produce or British dishes?
                    Maybe Cafe Rouge will become Caff Red?

                    1. re: Paprikaboy

                      Well, I suppose both of them have done episodes of "Great British Food Revival" - but then so has just about every food sleb. And I fully accept that Wallace knows his fruit & veg and has his very succesful greengrocery business - but isn't his restaurant thougt to be somewhat "iffy".

                      As for Torode, I don't think I've read that Smiths of Smithfield is amongst the capital's top flight restaurants so I'm not sure what he might have to offer.

                      No doubt good PR by Heathrow to get slebs in for a bit.

                      1. re: Harters

                        Good PR I'm sure at what is certainly a hefty price for the duo. How do they have time to even eat breakfast or do the other ordinary tasks of life?!?!