Inspired from Blumenthal’s In Search of Perfection TV programmes and book series, The Perfectionists’ Café’s menu features British classics and airport favourites revisited in the celebrity chef’s unique style.
"You cannot achieve perfection as it’s entirely subjective. As a perfectionist, you can continually try to improve things, even if that means just turning everything upside down and starting again. We have had some incredible fun trying to make the best ever versions of these dishes, including using kit from cement mixers to paint sprayers and even a few explosions along the way! But that organised chaos produced some incredible techniques – and subsequently some fantastic results. The point is, you will never be quite satisfied. It's an endless pursuit, but when you add to the mix a bit of our quintessentially British eccentricity, that’s when the fun really begins. For me, The Perfectionists’ Café is about the realisation of that journey in an actual café; it's about everything we questioned and about harnessing the very excitement of that journey for the diner," he explained.
Wood-burning oven pizza
The Perfectionists’ Café is the first airport restaurant to feature a wood-fired oven, and it aims to deliver traditional Neapolitan pizzas following authenticity regulations that specify the oven temperature must be high enough to allow the base to cook at speed whilst ensuring that the toppings don't get hotter than 60°C to avoid discolouration of fresh ingredients like basil.
Fish and chips spray
The fish and chips on offer at the restaurant is prepared with a crunchy beer batter created by Blumenthal in the TV programme following Leeds University research on the science of crunch. The batter has been siphoned to create the lightest, crunchiest possible mixture. The dish is served with a small atomizer containing malt vinegar and onion juice to be sprayed directly on the food or in the air to recreate what the chef identified as the traditional British ‘chippie’ taste and feel.
Inspired by the work of an oral physiologist who discovered that our own first three fingers put together is the widest we can comfortably open our mouths to eat, the burger has been squashed to this exact thickness. Aiming to allow customers to get all the layers of the burger in one bite, the chef and his team worked on the height of the different ingredient layers, but also the texture, density and aeration of the bun. Three cuts of beef have been chosen to maximise flavour and consistency, and Blumenthal chose brioche for the bun, as it is soft enough to absorb the juices and be pressed down to the three-finger rule, yet substantial enough to hold the burger together without falling apart.
Liquid nitrogen ice cream
Going back to his pioneer use of liquid nitrogen in restaurant kitchens in the late 1990s, Blumenthal has created an ice cream parlour at the entrance of his Perfectionists’ Café, which will have two steel cylinders holding liquid nitrogen and pumping it to the ice cream maker. With its temperature of -196°C, the nitrogen freezes the custard with minimal ice crystals, producing fast and smooth ice cream.
Cocktails served in the bar include classics such as fizzes, brambles and martinis made with premium spirits, hand-pressed juices and handcrafted infusions, but where The Perfectionists’ Café innovates is in the introduction of the Cloud Pour, which uses dry ice to suffuse drinks with essences of mandarin, thyme, vanilla, cinnamon and even tobacco and merlot, adding depth and complexity of flavour to the drinks.
Fat Duck group executive head chef Ashley Palmer-Watts and the Perfectionists’ head chef Julian O’Neill helped Blumenthal turn individual dishes from the TV programme into a menu adapted to a busy airport environment.
Designed by hospitality design specialist Afroditi Krassa, the Perfectionists’ Café’s interior reminds of the heyday and glamour of 1960s passenger flights, with propeller-shaped benches and formica-lined joinery.