I fly most weeks for work somewhere or other, from Beijing to Belfast. I always arrive at the airport hungry and I need food. Let’s look at the options.If airplane food never fills you up, or, even worse, glues your insides together, there are still many choices of pubs, inns and restaurants in and around both Gatwick terminals which should give you plenty of time to enjoy your meal before you fly. Essential Travel, (the leading supplier of cheap airport parking ) rounded up its favourite pre-flight foodie destinations.
The Gravetye Manor
From garden lunches and High Tea to a four-course dinner, there is no doubt that the exquisite food here (of which 95% is home grown) will delight your tastebuds. With Autumn arriving, so does a new seasonal menu. The Manor is very popular so it is strongly advised to make reservations in advance for lunch and supper (essential to book for High Tea). The Manor is just 10 miles away from Gatwick and well worth the detour.
Where: Vowels Lane, West Hoathly, RH19 4LJ (just off the B2028)
If you are looking for contemporary dining this is the place to go. Owner and Head Chef, Tristan Mason, believes that the old and the new belong together. This is evident in both the design of the restaurant and the menu. The 16th century building is juxtaposed with modern, chic decor, creating a feeling of the familiar mixed with the exciting new. The ever-changing menu creates the same feeling of creativity and passion by being essentially British with a modern French twist.
Where: 3 Stans Way, East Street, Horsham, RH12 1HU (just off the A281)
The Cowdray Pub and Restaurant
If you want a proper breakfast, but don’t have time to sit down, stop by The Cowdray. They will provide you with a freshly made meal with ingredients locally sourced: not something that is usually found 6.5 miles away from Gatwick. You can also indulge in a sit-down breakfast, lunch and dinner. Children are welcome, as long as they are well behaved, and there is a children’s special of a £5 meal on Sunday evenings.
Where: London Road, Balcombe, Nr Crawley, RH17 6QD
The Cat Inn
If you need to unwind and relax before your flight, this charming village 11 miles away from Gatwick will take you far away from the hustle and bustle of city life. The Cat Inn is just as picturesque as the village it’s in and is said to serve the best fish and chips in the village. Another popular favourite and the Cat Inn’s speciality that is so good it simply cannot be taken off the seasonally changing menu, is their steak, mushroom and ale pie.
Where: Queen’s Square, West Hoathly, RH19 4PP (just off Selsfied Rd)
The North Terminal
This Prunier and Caviar Bar has been described as the light at the end of the tunnel (of security checks) by one very satisfied customer. Others have called it a haven of fine dining with a relaxing ambience. Seafood serves only the freshest food and does it with the speed and efficiency that is rarely found in airport restaurants. As one diner put it, “Seafood Bar offers an island of tranquility and civilization”, making it the perfect place for all adult diners to relax before flying.
Where: Departure Lounge lower level, opposite Shoe Studio & Mango
Joe’s Kitchen and Coffee House
Joe’s is a relaxed family eatery and coffee house with an atmosphere that is sure to help take the stress out of travelling. Open from 6am until 8pm, Joe’s is both a sit-down and take-away kind of place. They serve breakfast, brunch, lunch and have a specialty evening menu that serves their house specialties, such as ‘Hot Wok’ stir fry and Club Sandwich.
Where: Level 1, next to Globe Freehouse and the public toilets
The South Terminal
Bridge Bar is fine dining at its simplest. The food is British-traditional, served alongside complementary global dishes. They also have a well-considered wine list and a large selection of beers and cocktails. All the makings of a high-end London restaurant at Gatwick – talk of the unexpected. The staff are exceptionally friendly and knowledgeable about the menu and are always ready and available to recommend a good wine to go with your meal. This is definitely the place to go if you are looking for a mature and relaxed ambience in the South Terminal.
Where: Airside in the Departure Lounge upper level, opposite Apostrophe
With Airside and Landside branches in the South Terminal, Apostrophe is available for both those flying and those picking up or dropping off family and friends. The Airside branch offers a wide selection of seating choice: eat at the communal tables or grab an armchair in the concourse dining area. If you are travelling in a large group, there are also leather sofas available in the pink zone. Landside, there are tables and booths available with plenty of space for large groups. The food is always freshly prepared and sumptuous. Apostrophe is well-known for its sandwiches, particularly the BLT and Le Grec. It is definitely a favourite on both sides of security.
Where: Landside by Departures on Level 3, next to Giraffe and the public toilets. Airside in the departure lounge upper level, next to Costa.
The Air Balloon Pub and Restaurant
The Air Balloon Pub and Restaurant is completely family-friendly and less than two miles from the airport. With the change of season comes some new additions to the menu, including the ‘Grill Festival’ which includes a two-for-£10 offer on the five ounce steak. It’s not just the grown-ups that get all the special deals however, as half term brings with it free dessert for the kids with every meal bought (from the 21st of October until the 4th of November).
Where: 60 Brighton Road Horley, RH6 7HE (use the A23 Brighton Road through Horley and it’s on your left travelling towards the airport)
With quick food service and a warm homely atmosphere, Giraffe is a great place for families. There is a range of kiddie-favourites on the children’s menu, while the the adult mains menu has a Mexican flavour to it. If Mexican isn’t for you, there is a range of salads and some good old British brunch options for you to choose from.
Where: Landside by Departures on Level 3, next to Apostrophe and Ticket presentation