Belfast Telegraph

Joris Minne: It's high time International Airport got its act together over pathetic food offering

Dr Joseph Ward with a photograph of the ‘paltry selection’ of food choices he was offered after paying £27.50 when he booked into the airport’s Causeway Lounge
Dr Joseph Ward with a photograph of the ‘paltry selection’ of food choices he was offered after paying £27.50 when he booked into the airport’s Causeway Lounge
The International Airport’s Causeway Lounge
Joris Minne

By Joris Minne

Shocking revelations of the poor catering standards at Belfast International Airport are making regular appearances these days.

The latest report from passenger Dr Joseph Ward adds fuel to the argument that the airport is not just letting itself down but it is also letting Northern Ireland, Belfast and the travelling public down.

The causes of the tragically comical standards of catering at Aldergrove are most likely to be complacency: there is a captive audience. If they are hungry there is nowhere else to go.

It was the same 10 years ago when I turned up for a morning flight to London which was then postponed. This forced me to take refuge in the airport's restaurant for breakfast.

I had been looking forward to duck eggs and haggis in the Wolseley in London's Piccadilly, particularly as it only cost £8.50 at the time.

Instead, I paid the same money for something barely cooked and inedible.

Rubbery wet globs of grey bacon featuring translucent fat, fried eggs cooked dry, nuked sausages and soggy soda bread insulted Ulster's favourite dish.

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If anything was going to erase the last vestiges of glamour associated with jet travel, it was the restaurant in Aldergrove. But that was a decade ago.

Just eight weeks ago, the adviser and I were back at BIA to get a morning flight to Majorca.

We took a gamble and ordered breakfast once again in the restaurant now called Sip & Stone.

Once again it was bitterly disappointing.

It would have been laughable if it hadn't been the worst meal we had endured in a decade.

When we left to go to the gate we walked past the sumptuous and exclusive looking Causeway Lounge.

This is a posh, club-like waiting area for which you pay a premium to get in.

Free drinks and snacks are part of the deal. You can pay £27.50 for lunch there too. How we envied them. Until we saw Dr Ward's testimony.

His and his partner's experience resonated with our own: absolutely awful food standards but plenty of helpful, charming and ultimately apologetic staff.

So even in posh class, the airport can't be bothered to get it right.

It is high time that the culprit chefs who serve up this muck came out of the kitchen to face the music and deal with the upset customers.

What they are doing is disgraceful to their profession, incredibly damaging to the reputation of everyone concerned, and worst of all placing often young staff in the firing line taking flack from the angry customer.

These so-called chefs should be named and shamed.

Is it any wonder the hospitality and catering sector cannot recruit good people?

Who would want to work in a restaurant whose chef is utterly uncaring about what he/she is feeding his customers?

If Belfast City Airport restaurant can up its game to the extent it has, why can't Aldergrove?

It is incomprehensible that a city like Belfast with an international reputation for excellent restaurants should be so poorly and so expensively served.

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