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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.

The Big Smoke Taphouse & Kitchen has joined Priority Pass at Heathrow

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.”

Big Smoke Heathrow bar Terminal 2

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):

Big Smoke Taphouse Heathrow menu

….. 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.

Big Smoke Taphouse Heathrow Terminal 2 burger

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.”

Getting airport lounge access for free from a credit card

How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (April 2024)

Here are the four options to get FREE airport lounge access via a UK credit card.

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 Eurostar, Lufthansa and Delta Air Lines lounges.  Our American Express Platinum review is here. You can apply here.

The Platinum Card from American Express

40,000 bonus points and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

If you have a small business, consider American Express Business Platinum instead.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit 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 £24.  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.

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

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard gets you get a free Priority Pass card, allowing you access to the Priority Pass network.  Guests are charged at £24 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.

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard

A huge bonus, but only available to HSBC Premier clients Read our full review

PS. You can find all of HfP’s UK airport lounge reviews – and we’ve been to most of them – indexed here.

Comments (17)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Youllnever says:

    It seems to also be in the LoungeKey app as well with the same £15 credit – does anyone know if it’s accepted as well?

    • Johnny5a says:

      If you go to LK website and search the Taphouse it’ll ask you to log in and check whether your LK is eligible. Now this is the strange bit, if you search for T2 and Taphouse then log in you get “Attention – You have inputted credentials for HSBC Premier World Elite MasterCard account which is not valid for this deal.”

      BUT if you go to the homepage, login and then search for T2 Taphouse you receive the following:

      “Your entitlement includes unlimited complimentary visits for you. Any guests you take in to the lounge will be charged 20.00 GBP per person.”

      I suggest contacting LK to clarify

      • Johnny5a says:

        Looks like I found a bug on the website, some reason it thought I was a Visa Signature customer, when I logged in again, it now correctly identifies me as a HSBC Mastercard World Elite.

        Now Taphouse says “PLEASE NOTE: Complimentary visits included with certain programmes cannot be redeemed at this Dining Outlet. Please log in to your online account on the app or website to check if this outlet is displayed as available to you.”

        I’m logged in but it’s not clear whether I am eligible I can see the place in my list

        • Xav says:

          I actually went through here yesterday on my way to Moscow. I can confirm that i was able to successfully use HSBC World Elite to get my £15 credit (in fact twice, once for me and another for my wife).

  • cinereus says:

    Miserly portion of anemic chips as well as stingy on the coleslaw from the look of the pictures.

    Forna restaurant review it’s a little odd not to mention whether the burger was properly cooked (i.e. medium rare with good maillard) and whether the drink was any good.

    • Alan says:

      Don’t think I’d trust an airport restaurant to still got 160C on medium well – a burger isn’t a steak after all. I’d want them to cook it right through.

      • Rob says:

        Certain London councils have banned restaurants from ‘rare’ and ‘medium rare’ burgers due to excessive cases of food poisoning, so you don’t get much choice.

  • John says:

    I’d prefer the lufty lounge food (precovid).

  • Stuart says:

    Big Smoke brewery is local to me. They have a great pub The Antelope in Surbiton. Well worth a visit.

  • lumma says:

    That burger and chips looks worse than wetherspoons to be fair

  • Johnny5a says:

    OT Q: I signed up for the 50k bonus on Amex Business Gold. I made the £5k spend with a few days to spare on 14 July, how long does it take for the bonus to be trigged on the account? Thanks

  • Yorkieflyer says:

    A fair few of PP packages aren’t unlimited entry so using one entry for £15 off is unlikely to be good value, might be more than you’ve paid?

  • Nick says:

    IMHO, I’m not so sure about the ‘taphouse’ pub image. Do MANY people today want a pint, or more before flying? Who knows? However, what it does remind me of, are people that you see, admittedly more often in years gone by, sitting, having several pints, at 8 am in the morning at airports. Everyone to their own I guess…

    As for the burger & chips, again, IMHO, it really doesn’t look too good in comparison with what’s now readily available today elsewhere. The bread buns, chips & slaw, and indeed the tomato ketchup, as you mention Rob, ‘look’ insipid at best. I can’t really see the burgers, but they do look similar, IMHO.

    Purely a personal view, as a GOOD burger lover!

    • The Savage Squirrel says:

      “However, what it does remind me of, are people that you see, admittedly more often in years gone by, sitting, having several pints, at 8 am”

      At any regional airport ‘spoons in summer season they are definitely still a thing of the present 😀

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