Yes, dear reader, I travel and I expect you, too, will have that delight from time to time. When one flies there are invariably tedious hours to fill while one waits for the plane which is still most likely stuck in JFK or Johannesburg. If you are lucky then you’ll be marooned in an airport with good facilities. The Five Tuns is located in Heathrow’s dramatic new Terminal 5 building and could be your refuge from both hunger and boredom.
This establishment strikes the right balance between a traditional pub and the Continental concept of a bar with real food and a family-friendly atmosphere. It’s an attractive airy space located on the top floor. It’s a contemporary vision of dark wood and moquette. I guess many of you won’t recognise the word but it’s a fabric with a pile, oft used as upholstery on London’s buses and tube trains. The material design is different and more thoughtful than the industrial version but it does give a nod to the location.
The menu is a solid mix of standard favourites with a touch of innovation. It has both an all-day menu and a breakfast menu for those who are jet-lagged and those who are still under the misapprehension that to eat well in England one must eat breakfast three times each day… or so said Somerset Maugham.
I visited The Five Tuns one cold Monday evening and chose from the all-day menu which offered some gastropubby suggestions. Smoked Salmon served on a Potato Cake with a Dill Mayonnaise would have been the choice had the weather been more cooperative but tonight I was tempted by the Warm Black Pudding Salad with a Poached Egg. This was surprisingly substantial with plenty of well-seasoned black pudding crowned with a well-cooked and richly runny egg, the yolk creating a comforting sauce for the mixed leaves. For the uninitiated this might sound an alarming concoction but warm salad is a classic and a favourite in bistros across la belle France.
Fish and Chips looked tempting as it was served to a family of holiday-makers. Perhaps this is the most iconic of dishes and just what one craves after a week or two spent eating nothing more exciting than paté de foie gras, paella or saltimbocca. Or it could be that the prospect of moist white fish in a crunchy golden batter would be irresistible even sans vacances.
The French waitress confided that her favourite dish on the menu was the Chicken Curry, Rice and Naan Bread. I guess that seems exotic to those from a land almost void of decent Indian restaurants. The grilled dry-aged Rib-Eye Steak, Chips and Béarnaise Sauce was, however, the main dish for us. It’s a staple for travellers and terminal staff alike. Its presentation was impressive, arriving on a wooden board as thick as a kitchen table-top. The steak was delicious and perfectly cooked. The accompanying fries were stacked in a metal pot and were chunky, piping hot and the sort one encounters only where there is a skilled chef or a well-practised mum.
The dessert card had lots of traditional puds: Treacle Tart with Clotted Cream, Sticky Date Pudding and Toffee Sauce, Bread and Butter Pudding would all have been appropriate ends to our choice of a rather British supper, but the aforementioned Gallic server steered us in the direction of another one of her favourites, the Chocolate Brownie. I have never been a lover of these often dry articles, but this was a wedge of sheer chocoholic delight. I think this one could be more likened to a chocolate fudge cake with a hint of mousse. It was meltingly decadent and glossy. Nothing more to add apart from an espresso.
The Five Tuns is the sort of spot overlooked by restaurant reviewers. It’s not on a classy thoroughfare. It doesn’t overlook a monumental monument, and you probably wouldn’t have your wedding reception there, but it serves great food at reasonable prices and it’s just where it needs to be to provide a hearty meal for those arriving from or heading to distant climes. A good solid casual-dining spot.
Open every day from 05:30 am until 10:00 pm
Visit The Five Tuns here
Restaurant review by Chrissie Walker © 2018