"I know so many people, myself included, who eat well all the time, and it's amazing what they have to resort to eating when they're in an airport," says Christopher Kostow, the three-Michelin-starred chef of The Restaurant at Meadowood. Happily, the quality of airport food is about to change—provided there's an AmEx in your wallet. The credit-card giant is opening an outpost of its newish Centurion Lounge concept at SFO's Terminal 3 by the end of 2014, featuring food from Kostow, drinks by Jim Meehan of seminal NYC cocktail bar PDT, and wines chosen by Food & Wine's Anthony Giglio, among other amenities.
Kostow says he'll source his menu for the lounge (which has a full kitchen of its own) from local purveyors, with a casual spin on the Napa Valley cuisine for which he's become nationally famous. Dishes are still being worked out, but diners can expect vegetable-forward fare designed to be taken on the plane, with flavors that are "light and have lots of bright acid," according to Kostow. Meehan will assist with a bespoke cocktail menu "inspired by the best flavors of California," says AmEx.
Other lounge amenities will include high-speed wi-fi, private workspaces, showers, and a family room for kids. A spa, with free treatments, may also be part of the offering. The two currently open locations are in Vegas (with food from Scott Conant) and Dallas-Fort Worth (with Dean Fearing behind the menu). New York-LaGuardia is next on the list, with an outpost opening in late summer that features food from Cedric Vongerichten, son of famed NYC chef Jean-Georges; Miami will also get a location. Kostow's checked out the Vegas lounge, and says it's "freaking gorgeous and supremely comfortable."
Of course, all this luxury comes at a price: only American Express cardholders can get into the lounge. Additionally, those who don't carry either the Centurion (a.k.a. Black) or Platinum cards, which boast annual fees of $2,500 and $450, respectively, will have to pay $50 for a day pass. Cardholders are allowed to bring in either a spouse (and any kids under 18), or two friends. But for those looking to splurge, it'll definitely be a cool new addition to SFO's offerings. "Maybe people will even want get to the airport early," Kostow muses.
· The Centurion Lounge [AmEx]