Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Chicago Dog

I spent a little time on a lay-over in Chicago, Ill. just about a month ago. I was looking for something for a quick snack and decided to find a Chicago Style Dog and a beer.

I really wish I could remember the name of the restaurant, but can't figure it out. 

The dog was great, the big surprise is the peppers vice the sweet relish. I'm not sure if I ever had a Chicago dog before, but I'm sure I'll have one again.

I guess I'll just have to go back and find it.

I flew American Airlines, so most likely in Terminal 3. If you recognize the decor or the dog, shoot me a note on my Facebook page

Edit: Turns out it was in Skyscrapers Bar terminal 3 near gate K9

Monday, August 29, 2016

The Renaissance Begins

I took my first airplane flight, courtesy of the United States Army, in October 1979. It was a great time, the excitement of starting off in a new career, the craziness of air travel, and just being 18 and starting out on your own. 

I don’t remember specifically eating in the airport, or on the layover (most likely at Chicago O’Hare - they used to love to send me there) but we would have had lunch tickets, to be used at a diner contracted by the Department of Defense. I don’t remember ever getting a good meal with lunch tickets. You have to remember, the contract would be awarded to the lowest bidder, and they would scrimp as much as possible to make a profit. 

I do remember over the years eating at different airports, mostly out of desperation or shear boredom during layovers. From what I recall, the food was on a par with bad theme park food of the same time period.

I’m not exactly sure when the improvements in airport terminal dining began, I first noticed it at LAX. I’m not even sure what year. But I noticed that they had a chain restaurant, I think it was Chili’s. I was amazed. 

For me, the beginning of the new trend in airport dining came in September 2008 from the good folks behind a little airline called JetBlue. 

JetBlue endured themselves to our family in January 2005, when we became part of what the airline calls “The Albuquerque Incident.” I won’t go into what happened, but the companies handling of a problem that wasn’t their fault, made us customers for life. 

Sometime in 2006 or 2007 we heard of a plan to build a new terminal at John F Kennedy Airport in New York. They promised it would be a first class facility, like no other at the time. It was called Terminal 5 or just T5.

The new Terminal 5 — located directly behind the old landmarked Terminal 5 designed by Eero Saarinen for T.W.A. in 1962 opened in September 2008. 

The new terminal featured a 10,000-square-foot food hall with nine sit-down restaurants. Some of which featured menus from the finest chefs of New York City’s most popular eateries.

11 years later, I think the idea has caught on.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Food On The Fly

So I was walking around the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport during a six hour flight delay (in fairness to the airline, there was a scheduled 2 hour layover and a four hour delay). I had just had a particularly good lunch, which I was thinking is unusual for airport food.

As I wandered, I was thinking about how airline travel used to be different. People would dress-up for flights, and airlines tried to be a luxurious as possible.

Even in the early 1980's I remember having a great meal on Alaska Airlines (Salmon, one passenger complained it was overcooked, and I was thinking "you just had salmon on a freakin airplane lady"). I also remember a United flight from Hawaii to LA, where they blocked off one of the aisles and set up a sandwich buffet, it stayed open most of the flight.

Today some people don't even get our of their pajamas for a flight.

In-flight service has deteriorated beyond imagination. On my last flight, they even split a can of soda between two passengers. Reminded me of being a kid and calling my mom at work to ask if we could split a soda three-ways, and then arguing about who got the most (BTW, I'm sure the other guy got more soda than I did).

Even in the days of quality in-flight service, the food in the airport was less than spectacular. Not very good and really overpriced.

Along the way, something changed. It was gradual, sneaking up slowly, I never really saw it coming. I think the first time I noticed was when I ate at a chain restaurant in LAX. It wasn't really great, but it was an improvement.

Now I had a meal that was actually good. And this blog was born.

I plan to talk about what is right in airport food, where to go when you're in a particular city, and where to find the best airport food in the country.

If you want to point out a place you think is really good - head to Facebook and look for our page