Airport Restaurants No Longer Suck

Luke's Bar and Bistro Sydney airport

Sydney and Melbourne airports have picked up their dining scene game in recent years. Chef Luke Mangan opened Luke’s Bistro and Bar at Sydney Airport in December 2023, Melbourne Airport is planning a $20 million dining precinct and the latest is that Icebergs Dining + Kitchen will open a spin-off, airfield-side.

The newest iteration of the Bondi venue by restauranteur Maurice Terzini will open in mid-2025 in terminal 3 of Sydney Airport, with a bar and strong emphasis on café-style food and drink, reports Delicious.

It will have less of the restaurant atmosphere the 20-year venue is known for. Carl Pickering, the Rome-based architect behind the original Icebergs, will also work on the airport spot.

“We’re not just opening a venue,” Terzini told Good Food. “We’re bringing a slice of Sydney’s heart to the airport.”

Icebergs Bondi
Image: Icebergs

Another slice of Sydney’s heart at the airport is Luke’s Bistro and Bar by chef and restauranteur Luke Mangan, which opened late last year in Sydney Airport Qantas domestic terminal 3. Mangan has eight other venues in Sydney, including Luc-San in Potts Point, Glass Brasserie inside the Hilton Sydney and Luke’s Kitchen at Kimpton Margot Sydney.

Like Terzini, Mangan wasn’t attempting to recreate an original venue, but adapted for the airport. His goal was to create a standalone modern bistro – a restaurant that happened to be in an airport, not an airport restaurant, he told Executive Traveller. The team didn’t stray from that vision and thankfully, Mangan says, it worked.

For those in a hurry, the bistro serves grab-and-go food and wines by glass, which can be drunk at its bar counter. But for those who have a little more time, tuck into Mangan’s famous lobster roll or a three-course meal, washed down with Champagne.

“The US and Europe have been ahead of the game [with elevated airport dining] for many years,” says Mangan. “We need to up our game in Australia and I hope doing what we have done will create a path for others to follow.”

In 2018, popular Sydney restaurant Kitchen by Mike opened Kitchen by Mike Express at Sydney Airport’s international terminal 1 in the City View precinct. The menu champions seasonal and ethically sourced market produce.

Melbourne airport The Square
Image: The Square

“The City View precinct heralds a new era for dining at Sydney Airport and we are very pleased to see the transformation complete with the opening of Kitchen by Mike,” Sydney Airport General Manager Retail Glyn Williams said at the time.

Melbourne Airport has also elevated its dining game, with a $20 million dining precinct in terminal 1 called The Square. Opened in January this year, it includes iterations of some of Melbourne’s most popular food and drink spots.

Rustica serves artisan beads and pastries, with a flagship bakery and café in South Yarra. Mobo Moga, owned by renowned chef Gary Mehigan, uses Victorian produce in modern Asian dishes. And The Local Taphouse features 60 taps.

St Ali, which serves specialty coffee, already has a shop at the airport, so its place at The Square is its second. The Square is also home to The Grace Wine Bar and Eatery, Pope Joan and Veneziano.

“The redeveloped dining precinct is designed to reflect our city with brands people know and love, and features food and cuisines that can be found in the CBD, Richmond, Collingwood, St Kilda and South Yarra,” said Jai McDermott, chief of retail at Melbourne Airport, at the time of its opening via Passenger Terminal Today.

The new space, McDermott said, encourages guests to dine in rather than eat at communal tables like in a traditional food court. He said that as Melbourne is widely regarded as Australia’s foodie capital, the team carefully selected food and drink operators the best showcase the city’s finest coffee, food and bars.

“The Australian dining public is very educated on great restaurant food and service,” Mangan says. “Our venues need to keep up with that demand if they want to do well.”

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