I’ll admit one thing about traveling that Sharon and I have a real problem with: figuring out when to leave for the airport. We sit there and do the type of math where you know the answer and then try to figure out the number to start with.
Our last trip from JFK to home went like this: Our plane is at 4:00 pm and boarding will start at 3:15p. We want to be at the gate before that and we don’t know how far of a walk it will be because we’re not super familiar with that airport, so figure we’re at the terminal gate area by 3:00 pm. There might be a line for security (again, we don’t know the airport very well), so let’s be at the airport to check in our bags by at least 2:30 pm. We had a hard time getting an AirTrain from the terminal to the LIRR on the way here, so we need to leave at least 20 minutes for that and there’s another 20 minute train ride from Penn Station. We need to be out of the hotel by noon, leaving time for connections, buying train tickets, and walking to the train station.
As it turned out, everything went smoothly and we were at the airport, bags checked and through security by 2 PM. Drats!
We were flying home on American so we were in Terminal 8. I have no lounge access with American so I pulled up the Priority Pass app and looked to see if there were any lounges in the terminal. What came up wasn’t a lounge at all, but a steakhouse.
(NOTE: Due to COVID restrictions, this location has been closed. The Priority Pass and LoungeBuddy websites still say it’s closed but there’s no mention on the establishment’s own website about the closure.)
Bobby Van’s Grill
JFK Airport – Terminal 8
Here’s a description from the website.
Located in American Airlines Terminal 8 in New York’s JFK Airport, Bobby Van’s only airport location brings an elegant dining experience that will blow any traveler away. Just steps past security, Bobby Van’s Grill brings the same high-quality steakhouse and grill fare of other Bobby Van’s establishments to airport dining. With a large and well-stocked bar as well as a dining room complete with table clothes and beautiful chandeliers, guests can enjoy a dining experience that will help them forget they are at the airport. For those diners who need to stay aware of flight status updates, flight charts are visible from the tables, and take out meals are available for those making a quick connection. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.
With my Priority Pass card we get with our Citi Prestige card, we were eligible to have the cardholder and one guest receives a $28 credit. If you only get limited lounge visits with your card or have to pay for guests, this might not be a great value.
Cardholders can use their lounge visit entitlement to receive US$28 off the bill. Each US$28 deduction represents a single lounge visit within the Cardholder’s existing lounge visit allocation for which the Cardholder will, where applicable, be charged. E.g. if a Cardholder registers 1 Guest they will receive US$56 off their bill which will be charged as 1 Cardholder visit + 1 Guest visit on their account. Only 1 membership card per visit per Cardholder will be accepted at point of entry.
As you walk in, the server podium is in the middle of an area filled with a mixture of smaller tables along the edge with a view of the terminal, high-top bar tables with a sports bar feel and the bar in the back. It looked nice but not like a high-end steakhouse.
We were led to an opening next to the bar to the back room. This was much more elegant with white tablecloths and wood paneling. If you’re looking for a relaxing dinner away from the hustle of the airport, see if you can sit in the back.
The bar wraps around to both sides, so you can sit there as well if you’d want to. The TV on this side of the bar was on mute when we were there, unlike the ones out front.
Our server showed up to our table quickly and took our drink orders. We needed a little more time to look at the food, as the menu is quite large for an airport location. Looking at the prices, I also discovered that the $28 credit wasn’t going to go very far. Honestly, of all the reviews I’ve read, no one has gone under the $28 price tab so your meal here is definitely not going to be “free.”
The drinks were good and then we ordered food. I decided to go with the $18 Bobby’s Famous 12oz Burger and Sharon ordered the $25 Steak Wrap Sandwich.
At least they didn’t skimp on the french fries. The server was attentive for our meal and made sure we were done with plenty of time to close out the check and be on the way to our flight. There are airport departure boards around the restaurant so you don’t need to keep wondering when your flight will leave, which is nice.
Now was the food good? It was. I’ve eaten in airports before where I didn’t even want to eat more than three bites of my meal but this was a perfectly edible meal. I’ve had better burgers and they’ve cost somewhat less than $18 but I’m in an airport and expect to pay for the privilege. This is no One Flew South (similar prices but much better food) and not even a Cask & Larder (same level food but much lower prices) so don’t get your hopes up too much.
Our check, after the $56 was removed, came to just about twenty dollars. We tipped on the $75 original amount, so our free “linner“ (lunch/dinner) ended up costing us about $35 for the two of us. Considering that if we ate a burger or sandwich somewhere else at the airport we would have paid just about the same, it ended up being a good deal. I’m just not going to go out of my way to eat here again.
I’m glad Priority Pass is adding more locations like this to their network. It’s not the same as having lounge access, but sitting down and having a nice meal instead of grabbing some fast food and eating at the gate was a nice change of pace. As long as we keep overestimating how early we need to leave for the airport, we’ll end up taking advantage of these perks when we can.
This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary