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The Five Tuns (Bar, Restaurant)

Picture of The Five Tuns in Heathrow Airport, London

Landside, Terminal 5, Heathrow Airport, London, TW6 2GA
Cuisine: Gastro
Tel: 0208 283 5065 | Email to The Five Tuns | Transport: Heathrow Terminal 4 | Write review

The Five Tuns Review

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Terminal 5: British Airways’ very own playpen. The last fleeting glimpse of good ole Blighty before reaching the front of the queue, stepping into a British plane, and being launched through the sky in the general direction of somewhere unbearable hot, usually populated mostly by Brits. Terminal 5 is more British than John Craven’s Newsround multiplied by Michael Caine and subtracted from the square route of a Cornish pasty. So what could possibly make it even more British? What else could be added to this monolithic human catapult that would enable it to exceed its ‘cuppa tea and a crumpet’ quotient? It seems a modern British boozer is the answer.

Geronimo Inns are THE name in redefining the British pub experience. They’ve been slowly buying up South East England in a bid to create some sort of ring of steel around London, which no discerning Brit can resist when attempting to escape to........The Continent. They’ve gone one better than the definitive ‘local’ as a last bastion of hope: they’ve covered all the immediate exits out of England. Heathrow Terminal 1, Heathrow Terminal 3, St Pancras International train station: all blocked by a Geronimo Inn. And still they keep buying property, carelessly ignoring the ‘more pubs set for closure’ daily headlines.

It was fairly predictable, therefore, that Geronimo would set up shop in T5. Approaching the departures floor after an unsettling, lightning-quick journey on the Thorpe Park ride known as ‘the lifts’ and an odd sensation begins to take hold: excitement combined with woe. Yes, we’re going on holiday, but gosh, we cant let go of our loved ones: the roast beef sandwich with horseradish and onion jam, the battered fish and chunky chips, the Cumberland sausage with bacon, tomato, mushies, beans and fried eggs. Who knows what will happen through those doors and beyond the security check. You might never see a bowl of porridge again.

So, this is a pub. It must be, it states it quite plainly in large lettering above the door. But it doesn’t feel like a proper pub. The exposed mechanical piping, electrical wiring and industrial hardware are the first giveaway. As are the detailed murals depicting famous landmarks of London. The gaping glassless windows are another. There’s something simultaneously unnerving and engrossing about staring through a large open hole in the wall of a pub at a fully-functioning (don’t snigger) international airport, mesmorised by thoughts such as ‘I wonder where they’re going’, ‘Oooh, I wouldn’t wear that on my holiday’, and ‘They’re clearly not a married couple’. But then, this is an airport pub, so it’s meant to be 400 kinds of different.

The bar itself isn’t so much a bar as a dividing partition between two rival factions. To the left, there’s the Sky Sports arena: a futuristic school dining hall complete with TV, high chairs and an army of kids (towing slave-parents). To the right is the Chillout domain: a stylish lounge furnished with colourful couches for canoodling couples, and standing bars at which centurion executives.....errr, stand, protecting their precious pints against the lethal pandemic of children.

Another aspect that’s instantly unusual for a pub is that everyone seems so cheerful. During the week there may be a few sterner faces propped up beneath their pressed shirts and ironed ties but by Thursday afternoon the holiday smile becomes a pre-boarding prerequisite. There’s even music playing in the pub to continually lift the spirits (the emotional kind, the liquid kind comes in many mood-lifting guises at the bar). This pub does not fall under the usual cosy, community hideaway banner like many other Geronimo Inns, but that actually works in your favour. There is a danger you could get too comfortable, and then you might find yourself re-enacting key scenes from ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles’.

With an hour to kill before boarding, there’s easily time to slurp down a two-courser (be sure to check if your flight is catered, though). The word ‘gastro’ usually implies a slow, Sunday afternoon pace and a smattering of French language on the menu. The Five Tuns, however, gives you ‘fastro’; same posh nosh experience, only in a Jaguar, not a Mini Metro. As mentioned above, this is proper English fare, so gravy, clotted cream and the common bacon butty all receive a worthy mention.

Naturally, for an airport, the prices edge into ‘law unto themselves’ territory - the chicken live pate starter costing £7.50, for example - but the food is not unreasonable given that the most expensive item on the menu is only £15 (rib eye steak); which is actually cheaper than the international airport in Budapest, and that’s just airport fact!

The delightful asparagus tart starter is slender, thus giving more girth for the main. Alternatively, if the demon hunger is persistent in your belly, the fishcakes with luminous yellow hollandaise and spinach will placate the beast. Follow this with the piquant lamb and potato pie and leave him dead sated. Dessert will finish him off forever, plus allow for some quality snoozing once onboard the flight. The all day brunch menu should ease the early starters into the daily onslaught, as well as those that may be confused about which time zone they’re in.

Flying the flag high for us Brits on the Liberation for the Libation front are Fullers, Adnams, and Sharp’s, whilst our foreign friends are represented by a discerning selection that includes Germany’s Warsteiner and Russia’s Baltika, an eye-catcher for many a beer perv. Despite this dependable Jamboree of ales, however, the wine list is a voice of the people that simply cannot be ignored. A Master of Wine was set loose on this one, cleverly splitting the wines stylistically and, unusually, offering every potion by the glass. Meaning, it’s not imperative for the transient punters to purchase the entire bottle of Infamous Goose Sauvignon from New Zealand. Not imperative, but still highly probable. Prices range from a dozen up to around 25 quid a bottle but there are also five sparkling options to toast the forthcoming adventures. A small gripe about the wine: considering the patriotic nature displayed throughout the venue, where is the English plonk?

The staff at the Five Tuns are jolly, alacritous and more approachable than a surly pub landlord, despite starting work well before most people have even gone to bed (there aren’t many pubs that open at 5.30am for breakfast). Necessity means they move faster than a seagull on a hot chip and the management has astutely provided adequate staff to cater for any unlikely problems.

The Five Tuns is reason enough to abide by the ‘must arrive two hours before departure time’ check-in procedure. The perfect taste of home before leaving the UK. Even better if you’ve just come back. It’s very good value for money considering the ambience, the service, and the range of food and drink on offer and is easily the best eatery inside the confines of T5; which isn’t actually that difficult considering Carluccios or Caffe Nero offer the only resistance. However, for those whose credit exceeds even their taste, the decadent Brasserie Roux in the nearby Sofitel Hotel is possibly one of London’s best restaurants. If not, the Five Tuns fills the post-check in, pre-security no man’s land, before the descent into a Duty Free trance. If you are inclined towards such impulse buying, at least have the decency to do so with a full belly and a slightly fuzzy head. It’ll make the experience more enjoyable. more

Customer Reviews for The Five Tuns

Average (based on 1 votes): 1 Atmosphere: Value: Quality:

The following customer reviews are not endorsed by Fluid London and are simply those of users who wish to publish their independent experiences of The Five Tuns.

“Heathrow International Airport Terminal 5: not the first place you think of when considering a fine English gastro pub experience. Yet, here it is. Proper British nosh, excited atmosphere, stylish decor, worldly wine list, and reasonable prices. It's either this or an our spent sniffing your way around Duty Free. A no-brainer, really.”
Atmosphere: Value: Quality:
Leigh, Tooting (11 years 8 months 3 days ago)

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