Pavilion Restaurant @ Hilton East Midlands Airport, United Kingdom

The Pavilion Restaurant at the Hilton East Midlands Airport has three categories of clientèle.  The first are business travellers staying at the hotel.  The second are leisure travellers also staying at the hotel, generally before or after a holiday that departs from the airport.  The third group I feel for the most.  They are local people who go to the Hilton for a ‘posh’ meal.  I know that all of these groups exist as I have observed them all during my many nights here.

The Pavilion Restaurant doesn’t have any competition.  The location of the hotel is as such that there is no alternative eatery for a good few miles that means you need to drive, or take a cab.  If you do decide to drive, check out our review of the Three Horseshoes (15 minutes drive).  Due to this lack of competition the restaurant doesn’t need to try very hard; there will always be custom from the hotel.

The restaurant offers a 3 course set price menu.  This serves several purposes: if you are on a dinner inclusive stay then you think your pound if going further (£24.95 is the price fools pay); the kitchen doesn’t need to go to any effort and the guests need to pay a fortune for dinner.  I will add there is a Lounge menu served in the bar next door which offers things like Macaroni and Cheese (£12.95), Cheese Pizza – the Chicago Town Stuffed Crust ones that you get in the shop for £3 (£16.95) and the infamous Hilton Burger (£13.95) which uses only the finest American beef.  Right.

I had learned during a previous stay that there is a great deal here – you just need to ask for it.  I went to reception and asked for a meal voucher – it cost £15 (was added to the room) and gave me three courses!  This is of course the same menu, restaurant and food that would cost £24.95 if you didn’t know any better.  I think the idea is that they will ask leisure guests if they would like to upgrade their stay to include dinner for ‘only’ £15, while letting the business travellers pay full price.  Seems a bit sneaky to me.

Voucher acquired I went in search for a table in the restaurant.  It was Curry night.  Once a week here they do a curry buffet (£12.95) and gives you two or three curries; you can help yourself to as much as you like.  I had tried this twice before; the first time was great, the second time was unpleasant.  I was not brave enough to try a third.  Another sneaky thing they do here is charge you a set price for a meal and then add surcharges, so if you want Steak it costs an extra £5.  More sneakiness.

I was greeted fairly quickly (the restaurant is never busy and you do not need to book) and taken to a table.  The restaurant is the location for breakfast and it looks it.  There is nothing to say about how this place looks and feels – think of a hotel that many, many years ago was grand and hasn’t been updated since and you will get the idea.

As a frequent Hilton guest, I know that the mark-up on wine is silly.  Really silly.  I simply refuse to pay £7.95 for a glass of mediocre wine.  I had brought a Peroni from the bar with me (£3.45 each).

I went to the bread table first and was amused that rather than offer olive oil and vinegar there was a few bottle of ‘finest rapeseed oil”!

When I was asked what I wanted to eat, I opted for Fish cakes followed by pasta in a pesto sauce.  The starter arrived quickly and was pretty good, although I could have done without the salad that came with it.  The pasta was served quickly after I had finished and wasn’t so good; it tasted a bit microwaved.

There was a dessert section that you could help yourself to and offered cheesecake, gateaux and fruit; they all looked pretty good but I wasn’t really in the mood.

Not bad for £15 I guess, but not really great either.  I felt sorry for the local couple that had gotten dressed up to go out somewhere “nice” for the night and had spent a fortune on wine and (what tasted like) microwaved food.

Pavillion Restaurant, Hilton East Midlands Airport, Junction 24, M1, Derby Road, Derby DE74 2YW, United Kingdom.  Website

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