Tuesday, August 13, 2013

American Airlines Admiral's Club, SFO

During my recent travels, a friend gave me a voucher to use the Admiral's Club at SFO before my flight.  The club opened fairly recently, in the new Terminal 2.  Domestic Admiral's Clubs aren't exactly known for being lavish, or having many offerings, but they are always nicer than sitting in the main terminal.

The club at SFO is fairly standard, with wifi, several seating options, bathrooms, and a bar with drinks and Amora food for purchase.  Since it was new, it did have a nicer feel to it than most of the more dated Admiral's Clubs I've visited.

They also have the customary meager complimentary food and drink options, although, I happened to fly right when they were in the process of upgrading the food offerings!  A few days later, an announcement was made that they are "adding new selections to the snack offerings. Oranges and yogurt covered pretzels are now available all day. A mini butter croissant and a variety of mini Danishes were added to the morning options. Plus, you should start seeing an upgraded Otis Spunkmeyer chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin cookie, mixed Mediterranean olives, crudité, and assorted cheeses to pair with tomato basil crackers for an afternoon snack."

While not all of these options were available when I flew, they had clearly started to roll out some of the changes in advance of the announcement.  None of the food nor drink was very good, but hey, it was nice to have something to nibble on, and being in the club was far more calm and enjoyable than being in the main terminal, so I was happy enough.
Cheese danish, cherry danish, snack mix, mini yogurt pretzels, cappuccino.
Once I settled in, it was time to check out the food.  Since I was there early in the morning, the breakfast offerings were out, along with the standard snack mixes.

I started with the tray of breakfast pastries, a new offering in the Admiral's Club.  They had croissants and three types of danishes.  I started with just two danishes, but I couldn't resist trying them all on my next round, so not all are pictured here.
  • Croissant: Calling this a croissant is a bit generous.  It was more like crescent shaped bread.  It wasn't flaky, it wasn't crisp on the outside nor moist on the inside, it was all homogenous texture-wise.  It certainly wasn't buttery.  Serious meh.  Skip this, unless you are just in the mood for kinda stale tasting bread.
  • Cheese Danish: I went first for the cheese danish, since it had cheese, thus a tiny bit of protein, thus an ok breakfast?  The pastry dough was basically the same as the croissant, dry, stale-ish, not good.  The cheese filling was actually fairly tasty, with a nice cream cheese flavor.  The icing was sweet, good, but kinda weepy and melty, making for sticky fingers, and a bit off putting.
  • Cherry Danish: Next I went for the cherry danish.  Again, the pastry wasn't good, the icing was melty, but the filling was sweet and enjoyable, although clearly very fake.  What was good, was a scoop of the filling from the cheese danish, topped with a scoop of the cherry danish filling.  It was basically cherry topped cheesecake.  Totally breakfast appropriate, I swear!
  • Apple Cinnamon Danish: And since I didn't love the other two danishes, I was feeling quite unsatisfied, and decided to try out the final one.  Again, the other components were the same, but the filling was sweet, nice chunks of apple, with good cinnamon spicing.
The apple cinnamon danish was certainly the winner of the pastries, but it still wasn't very good.  These clearly aren't fresh.  It was nice to have something carby and sweet to pair with my coffee though.

Speaking of coffee, the coffee comes from a Nescafe automatic machine.  There are two of them in the lounge, one is by the pastries and serves only coffee (regular or decaf), or hot water for tea (only English breakfast).  There was only half and half available for adding to the coffee.  The coffee was exactly what you'd expect, instant coffee.  Meh.  There was also water available at that station.

The other Nescafe machine is fancier, and offers cappuccinos, mochas, hot chocolates.  I tried out a cappuccino, but it also wasn't very good, made with milk powder, not real milk.  That station had more sweeteners and milk products available, no tea.

It also had a self serve soda machine, which I didn't try, and an iced tea machine.  The iced tea machine turned out to be amazing.  It offered a slew of different teas: unsweetened, sweetened, green, raspberry.  I tried the green tea, and it was really delicious.  Sweetened, but not cloying, and very refreshing.  I wish they had togo cups, as I would have loved to have brought another one of these on my flight.

This expanded drink station is also where the snacks lived, including their classic snack mix.  This has been an Admiral's Club staple for as long as I've known.  It really isn't that good, but it is somehow really addicting.  I've found that it is my desire for it to be better than it actually is keeps me going.  It is like 50% pretzels, although three different types: tiny standard pretzels, twisted pretzels, and little pretzel sticks.  They are as generic as can be and I never like them.  So I always eat far more of the mix than I want to, as I'm digging through looking for the other goodies.

And there are plenty of other goodies.  The spicy, slightly zesty (perhaps cheesy?) sticks are my favorites.  The hearty sesame sticks have a nice texture and crunch, my second favorite.  There are a few super crunchy corn kernels, although finding one of them is a true gem.  And then some mediocre cheddar fish, like thin goldfish.

None of the elements of the snack mix are great, yet the salt level is so high, and the desire to find a yummy bit is there, so I always keep going back for more and more.  I wouldn't be shocked if this stuff contains MSG :)  It also helps encourage you to drink more and more iced tea, as you start to dry out from all the salt content!

Finally, I moved on to the new snack offering of mini yogurt pretzels.  I have a fondness for these things in general, so I was really excited to see them.  They were small, salty, but did not have much flavor.  They did have the nice sweet and salty thing going on, but compared to many other yogurt pretzels I've had, they weren't remarkable.  The coating seemed to be even more waxy than usual, but the tiny size made them somehow even more addicting.  It was nice to see a sweet offering alongside the standard savory salty snack mix.

There were also baskets of fairly sad looking fruit: apples and oranges.  I didn't try any of them.
Assorted cookies: chocolate chip, ginger, shortbread.
Well, I had my "dessert" already with the sweet "yogurt" pretzels right?  Or perhaps the crazy sugary danishes.  But, at exactly 9am, the pastries were quickly cleared away, and a platter of cookies was put in their place.  It was clear that 9am on the dot was when this was supposed to occur, but I was pretty surprised.  There were tons of pastries left, and I'm sure others would want them at 9:30am.  Who wants cookies at 9:01am instead?

There were three types of cookies on the platter.  They weren't labelled, so I'm somewhat guessing at the flavors: chocolate chip, gingersnap, and shortbread.  They didn't look like fresh cookies, but I still had to try all three!  I had just eaten all the pastries and snacks however, and like I said, it was only 9am, so I grabbed one of each and threw them in my bag to enjoy a few hours later on my flight.  I hope that wasn't breaking any rules ...

Sure enough, a few hours later, I was on my flight, with no food offered.  I got a cup of tea, and eagerly broke out the cookies to pair with it.  Unfortunately, none were good.  They were all super hard and crispy.  Not stale exactly, but certainly not fresh.  None had any real flavor.  Meh.

However, just a few mere days after my flight, American announced that they are upgrading the cookies!  "You should start seeing an upgraded Otis Spunkmeyer chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin cookie".  I'm not sure what brand these ones were, but Otis Spunkmeyer cookies have always been available for purchase inside the Admiral's Club for $2.99, although those are baked to order.

I'm certain these were not the upgraded cookies, so I'm curious to see what the new ones are like.  Are they warm like those served in upper class on flights? (always a highlight of my flights!  The aroma of fresh baked cookies, warm, gooey, fresh cookies ... mm!)  I doubt it, but hopefully they will be nicer than these.


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