Simian Substitute Site for April 2024: Makake
Circumilluminating Iceland part 1

BrewDogging #88: Gatwick Airport

How does that work when you're airside, exactly?First Basingstoke, then Exeter, now this: it’s beginning to feel like all of the new BrewDog bars we’re visiting this year are in shopping centres.

I mean, have you seen the duty-free in Gatwick North Terminal lately? I swear it gets bigger and longer every time we fly from there. A good five minutes of walking past shelves full of booze, and not a single decent beer in sight. Still, at least that changes once you get into the departure area... eventually.

This isn’t BrewDog’s first airport bar, of course: there’s already one in Edinburgh, with another one on the way in Columbus, and the promise of more to follow internationally. But a comparison with that first bar is worth making. If you were just a general punter who was flying out from Edinburgh and wanted a wee swally before takeoff, it’d be easy – you walk out of security and Wetherspoons is right there. You have to travel a bit further into the airport before you hit BrewDog, and nobody’s going to be heading there unless they’re actively looking for it.

I wouldn’t want to suggest foul play on the part of Spoons, but the arrangement at Gatwick is virtually identical. Come out of security and into the huge departure hall, and the right hand side is dominated by the macropub. To find BrewDog you’ve got to turn left, look for their logo on some discreet signs saying ‘more shopping and dining this way’, head up an escalator and more or less double back on yourself before you see the place.

Still, once you find BrewDog Gatwick Airport it does pretty much everything you’d want an airside airport bar to do. For a start, it sensibly assumes that the main reason casual punters would be heading in there is to eat, so one of the first things you see as you approach is a video screen telling you how many minutes you’ll have to wait for food to be cooked. We’ve travelled to Gatwick before breakfast, and check-in took a little bit longer than we’d hoped, so the promise of having food in front of us in 8 minutes definitely appeals.

It's worth noting that the menu at Gatwick is a bit different from the standard bar menu, a little closer to what they offer in their hotels, but ultimately its own thing. For a start there’s a separate breakfast menu, available till noon. We have one each of the standard breakfast burger and the veggie breakfast burger, and they both do the job excellently. I’m particularly impressed with mine, because I’ve had my issues in the past with the standard brunch burger BrewDog offer – beef patties don’t work for breakfast, particularly when they’re just one component in a massive stack that ends up sufficiently lubricated by fat to slide out of the buns as soon as you pick it up. The Gatwick version is basically sausage, egg, bacon, cheese and some sauce, and is a perfectly sensible size to pick up and shove into your face.

By the time we’ve finished eating, it’s eleven o’clock, so we feel we can just about justify a couple of pre-plane beers (Wingman and Black Heart, if you’re curious). At this point we can relax a little bit and look around at what else the bar has to offer. As you’d imagine, it’s a bit quiet at 11am on a Monday morning, with the number of punters never rising above half a dozen or so. But the staff are their usual friendly and helpful selves, which is good when you’re dealing with the potential stresses of a plane journey. The layout’s much what we’ve come to expect by now, with a couple of minor design quirks – a photo booth for the souvenir pics, a few games consoles for the kids, and Zoom cubicles for jetsetters who need to take a quick online meeting before boarding.

Other than that, the only main difference is that food menu, which after the breakfast deadline does some interestingly non-standard stuff with melts rather than the usual burgers. But we don’t have time to investigate that: instead, we sup up our beers and head off to board a flight that we theoretically paid for back in March 2019.

Hmmm. You know, this feels like it might be a prologue of some sort.

[Previously: Bristol, Camden, Newcastle, Birmingham, Shoreditch, Aberdeen, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Kungsholmen, Leeds, Shepherd's Bush, Nottingham, Sheffield, Dog Tap, Tate Modern, Clapham Junction, Roppongi, Liverpool, Dundee, Bologna, Florence, Brighton, Dog Eat Dog/Angel, Brussels, Soho, Cardiff, Barcelona, Clerkenwell, DogHouse Glasgow, Rome, Castlegate, Leicester, Oslo, Gothenburg, Södermalm, Turku, Helsinki, Gray's Inn Road, Stirling, Norwich, Southampton, Homerton, Berlin, Warsaw, Leeds North Street, York, Hong Kong, Oxford, Seven Dials, Reading, Malmo, Tallinn, Overworks, Tower Hill, Edinburgh Lothian Road, Milton Keynes, Canary Wharf, Brixton, Paddington, Dalston, Aberdeen Union Square, Peterhead, Itaewon, Le Marais, Outpost Manchester, Perth, Edinburgh Airport, Carlisle, St Pauli, Old Street, Cambridge, Ealing, St Andrews, Chancery Lane, DogHouse Manchester, Bath, Reykjavik, Inverurie, DogTap 2.0, Waterloo, DogHouse Edinburgh, Upminster, Wandsworth, Hull, Dublin Outpost, Basingstoke, Exeter]


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