Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Qantas Business Class Lounge, Sydney

Update Review, February 2016

Last week, I updated my review of the First Class Qantas lounge in Sydney, hands down, my favorite airline lounge.  Go there, read about the phenomenal food and massages, and then return here as as comparison point.

I've also reviewed the business class lounge before, so feel free to start there, and then return here for a quick 2016 update.

After we had our delicious main dishes, it was time for Ojan’s massage, and I had a half hour to explore before mine.  I wandered over to the business class lounge, just to take a peak (ok, who are we kidding, of course I was going for the food!)  As always, the staff noted my status and let me know that I really would be more comfortable over in the First Class lounge.  I told them I just wanted to check it out, and I was welcomed in.

The business lounge was much, much more crowded, a very different feel than the calm, serene First Class lounge.  I immediately understood why they warned me.
Salad Buffet (Business Lounge).
In the business class side, there is one “dish of the day”, and beyond that, the food is served at a buffet, a stark contrast to the full restaurant in the First Class lounge.

The buffet had one hot entree with sides (chicken, potatoes, carrots), a hot soup, and a selection of salads.  I recalled the salads being great before, so I went for them again.  And ... they were great!

From right:
 “Edamame vegetables”
The big bowl was the not-very-descriptively named  “Edamame vegetables”, which was actually delicious.  Now, I don’t care for edamame, but the sliced radishes and carrots were crunchy and refreshing.  I loved the dressing, and the crunch from the sunflower seeds.  Really, an excellent salad.

“Salt baked beetroot”
I didn’t try the beets, since I don’t really like beets, but, I know my mom would have liked this.  I almost tried them in her honor, but, I knew I should save my stomach space.

“Roasted sweet potato”
The roasted sweet potato wedges were quite nice, really nicely roasted and slightly caramelized.  I was hoping the white stuff on them would be an aioli of sorts, but, it was more like a tart yogurt.

“Rocket leaves”
I skipped the simple rocket (arugula).

“Tomato, feta, and basil”
Since I wanted one last taste of summer, I went for the tomato salad.  The tomatoes were delicious!  Ahh, summer.  I liked the slight saltiness and creaminess from the feta too.

Overall, the salads were excellent, and I have to say, I could have been quite happy just making a big, healthy meal of these.  But of course, I had the fish burger, pasta, and sashimi already, and had my eyes on dessert next …
 Baked Lemon Cheesecake, Raspberry Lamington (Business Lounge).
The dessert selection in the buffet had cheesecake, lamingtons, and flourless chocolate brownies.  Of course I planned to go back to order a plated dessert in the First Class lounge, but … cheesecake!  I couldn't resist the smallest slice.

I’m so glad I took a slice, as it was really, really good.  Creamy cheesecake, with just a hint of lemon.  The crust was buttery, sugary, and really good.

I wasn’t remotely hungry, but then … this cheesecake happened.  I was powerless.  Devoured.
Gelato & Sorbet (Business Lounge).
At that point, since I was already stuffed and clearly in “eat all the things!” mode, I swung by the gelato and sorbet stand.  Just to “look”.  The sorbet choices were strawberry, pink grapefruit, and pineapple.  For gelato, green apple, coffee, and panna cotta.  It was hopeless.  Of course I needed the panna cotta gelato.  I mean, my blog has a label for panna cotta, and another for ice cream.  I love these items, and combined together? I had to try.

It was really quite good, the flavor a bit hard to describe, sorta ... buttermilky?  It was a smooth, creamy gelato.  I really enjoyed it.

Also near the gelato area was a barista bar with soft, fluffy marshmallows and white chocolate disks (both delicious) and candy jars full of layered licorice.

On a sugar high, and absolutely stuffed, I headed back to the First Class lounge for my massage, and then to meet Ojan for … more dessert.  Mission accomplished.

Original Review, February 2015

Ahh, the Sydney Qantas lounges.  As you read about last week, I really, really enjoyed my time in the Qantas First Class lounge.  If you ever have the opportunity, I highly recommend spending as much time there as you possibly can.  The food is better than most restaurants in Sydney itself, the spa actually offers real massages, the seating is comfortable, the staff is friendly ... my accolades can go on and on.

But of course, I'm a curious girl, so after having lunch in the First Class lounge, I needed to go on a journey to check out the business class side, just to compare.  I didn't spend all that much time in the business lounge though, so this is mostly just a photo tour with a slight narrative, for informational purposes, rather than an in-depth review.

Overall, it is a nice lounge for sure, although not nearly as premium as in the First Class lounge.  The salads in the buffet were particularly impressive, and, just like the First Class lounge, compared to the Qantas Business Lounge in LAX, the Sydney one is a league above.

Seating

Lounge Style Seating.
The seating was not nearly as plush nor fabulous as the First Class area, but was still comfortable.
Workstations.
Apparently some strange creatures exist who travel without computers, so there is a row of workstations set up, overlooking the runways.
Long Bar.
The center of the room contains a long bar with seating all along it, plus a barista station, where they make fancy hot chocolate, using real chocolate, garnished with fancy marshmallows.
Gelato!
Right next to the barista station is ... a gelato shop!  Yes, seriously.  I obviously would have gone for this, except I was planning to return to the First Class area to order at least one, if not two, desserts from the restaurant there, so I had to use restraint.  The placement next to the barista however is perfect for an affagado, a trick I discovered with glee in the British Airways Galleries lounge at Heathrow.
Meringues.
The bar also had meringues set out, but they were the hard style, and not something I've ever tempted by, even when I'm not anticipating other desserts.  One point for me resisting a dessert!
Spa Water.
The very far end of the bar houses spa water, self-serve, which I really appreciated.  Hydration during travel is very important.
Self-Serve Beverages.
For other sorts of hydration, a self-serve beverage station is at one end of the room, with several beers on tap, a handful of wines and spirits, and a soda machine.

The alcohol selection here was obviously greatly reduced from the rather impressive full bar and nice wine list in the First Lounge, but even just the soft drink selection was lower quality, with a soda machine rather than individual bottles, and no sparkling water.  The horrors.
Hot Drinks.
A robot coffee machine and tea selection completed the drink offerings.  The decaf coffee was pretty decent, the machine ground it to order, but of course, you could order from the barista with the full espresso machine too.

The tea selection, like the drink selection, was again lower-tier, here they just had Dilmah brand tea, and not a large assortment, whereas in the First Class lounge they had T2 tea, our Australian favorite.
Assorted Composed Salads.
Next came the food. The salad line-up was impressive, with 8 salads, fresh and not limp looking, with all sorts of interesting ingredients.  This really put the basic potato salad and brown lettuce from the Qantas Business Lounge in LA to shame.  Also, unlike the LAX lounge, everything here was clearly labelled.  The salad lineup:
  • Rocket and parmesan
  • Bean salad dressed in hazelnut and orange
  • Poached chicken pasta salad with olive tapenade
  • Cos lettuce with proscuitto
  • Panzanella with mozzarella
  • Beetroot and mint with cherry dressing
  • Potato, pea, and egg with cashew pesto
  • Spinach, feta and quinoa
  • Roasted pumpkin with chickpeas and preserved lemon
I had just eaten a full, wonderful lunch in the First Class lounge, but I couldn't resist trying a few things.  The beauty of buffets is that I could try just a bite!

I started with the panzenella.  I love panzenella, which is funny because I don't really like bread that much.  But make bread soggy, or turn it into bread pudding, and I'm sold!

The panzenella was quite good, perfectly soggy bread that soaked up all the tomato juices, plus fresh, ripe tomato, and quality mozzarella.  It was nicely seasoned too.  If I was looking for some food, I would have been quite happy with this.

I also had proscuitto and cheese from the cos salad, and it was salty and tasty, again, good quality, and really satisfying for lounge food.
Desserts! Fruit salad, flourless chocolate cake, lamingtons.
And of course, there were desserts.  I know, I know, I was just saying that there was dessert waiting for me next door in the First Class lounge, but ... dessert!  I had to try something.  I don't care for lamingtons and the fruit salad contained watermelon, so it was an easy choice: chocolate cake!

It was a decent flourless chocolate cake, very rich, very fudgy, particularly the top layer.  But chocolate-loving Ojan wasn't very impressed.
Hot Foods, Soup.
The hot dishes of the day were Hungarian beef goulash and butter and herb pasta.  The soup of the day was potato and garlic, with crusty rolls on the side.

We didn't try any of this, but I saw a number of people with big bowls of goulash, who really did look quite happy.

Bathrooms

Bathroom.
I poked my head into the shower suites, just to see.  They had a sink, large counter, and toilet, along with a rainfall shower.
Shower.
Just like in the First Lounge, they provided Aspar products
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