Review: The Big Smoke Taphouse & Kitchen, the new Priority Pass option in Heathrow Terminal 2
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As we covered last week, Priority Pass has moved quickly to fill the black hole that opened up at Heathrow Terminal 2 last week when the Plaza Premium lounge left the programme.
The Big Smoke Taphouse & Kitchen has joined!
Reader Michael Reay visited The Big Smoke to see what it offered to Priority Pass visitors.
A quick reminder that you cannot visit The Big Smoke if your Priority Pass card was issued by American Express.
You can visit if you pay for a Priority Pass or if it is given to you by any other financial institution.
“To regain some kind of presence in Heathrow Terminal 2, Priority Pass has recently added The Big Smoke Taphouse & Kitchen to its ranks. I popped in last Wednesday as I was flying Virgin Atlantic from their temporary home in Terminal 2. [Virgin Atlantic is now back in Terminal 3 as of this week.]
This restaurant only joined Priority Pass two weeks ago and in fact, only opened its doors for the first time in May 2021. Located opposite WH Smith’s on the lower level of the Terminal 2 main hall, the quickest way to get there is to turn right after security and head down the escalators on that side.
The Priority Pass website describes it as “a pub and restaurant that showcases Big Smoke’s range of craft beers, small-batch spirits and English pub classics alongside American-inspired dishes.”
There’s a range of seating choices with regular tables, booths, high-tops and bar seating in a bright and airy setting. The decor feels fresh, not unlike your typical ‘gastro/brew-pub’ in any major UK city. As it is located towards the A20+ gates, you do get some natural light (unlike the Plaza Premium Lounge) and even some views of the apron from the tables on the far side.
Each Priority Pass member receives a £15 credit. Although this venue is run by the same people as The Grain Store at Gatwick which accepts all Priority Pass cards, Amex-issued Priority Pass cardholders are excluded here.
Service was friendly. Your Priority Pass is scanned before you are seated, presumably to avoid issues with people ordering and then having their Amex-issued Priority Pass cards rejected when it is time to pay.
The menu (click to enlarge):
….. is fairly ‘meat heavy’ though there are options for everyone. I tried the Double Cheeseburger. At £14.50 with fries and coleslaw, I felt it was very fair value compared to typical airport and London pricing. To wash it down I had a pint of the Electric Eye Pale Ale for £5.90.
My food was served fairly quickly and the restaurant advertises that it can get you any of the menu items within 15 minutes if you let them know – perfect if you’re short of time.
The burger was decent. It’s not going to top any ‘London’s Best Burger’ lists but it was tasty and the portion sizes were fair. The coleslaw portion felt a bit stingy and the ketchup tasted cheap and vinegary – it certainly wasn’t Heinz. These, however, are minor niggles.
As you can see from the menu, your £15 credit is not going to cover much more than one main-course per person. That said, if you view this new Priority Pass addition as a discounted meal rather than a ‘free’ one, you won’t walk away disappointed. The quality of the food is certainly a cut above the Plaza Premium Lounge buffet.”
How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (April 2023)
As a reminder, here are the four options to get FREE airport lounge access via a credit card:
The Platinum Card from American Express
30,000 points and unbeatable travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review
The Platinum Card from American Express comes with two free Priority Pass cards, one for you and one for a supplementary cardholder. Each card admits two so a family of four gets in free. You get access to all 1,300 lounges in the Priority Pass network – search it here.
You also get access to Plaza Premium, Delta Air Lines and Eurostar lounges. Our American Express Platinum review is here. You can apply here.
American Express Business Platinum
40,000 points bonus and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review
If you have a small business, consider American Express Business Platinum instead.
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold
Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is FREE for the first year. It comes with a Priority Pass card loaded with four free visits to any Priority Pass lounge – see the list here.
Additional lounge visits are charged at £20. You get four more free visits for every year you keep the card.
There is no annual fee for Amex Gold in Year 1 and you get a 20,000 points sign-up bonus. Full details are in our American Express Preferred Rewards Gold review here.
HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard
A huge bonus, but only available to HSBC Premier clients Read our full review
HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard gets you get a free LoungeKey card, allowing you access to the LoungeKey network. Guests are charged at £20 although it may be cheaper to pay £60 for a supplementary credit card for your partner.
The card has a fee of £195 and there are strict financial requirements to become a HSBC Premier customer. Full details are in my HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard review.
PS. You can find all of HfP’s UK airport lounge reviews – and we’ve been to most of them – indexed here.