Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Qantas First Class Lounge, Sydney

Update Review, Feb 2016

After another wonderful trip to Sydney this past February, it was sadly time to head home.  Luckily for us, our journey home from Sydney to San Francisco began in the Qantas First Class lounge.  While I was sad to be leaving my favorite city, I was actually looking forward to the airport part of our journey home.

Our flight was scheduled for 3pm, but we arrived at noon, because we wanted to maximize time in the lounge.  (Side note: Qantas has made “all day checkin” a permanent feature in the Sydney lounge only, so, you can actually check in anytime.  I’ve said it before, but I really mean it this time … next time, I really should arrive far earlier, have breakfast there too, and just hang out even longer in the lounge.  Such a nicer place to kill time than my hotel room!).

Anyway, since I’ve reviewed the lounge before, I’ll skip the basics, and get right to the details of this visit.  Very little changed since our last visit, the staff were friendly and welcoming, the food wonderful, and really, I can’t express just how much I love visiting this lounge!

The Space

Massage Room.
Both Ojan and I were able to book massages, and amazingly, were able to easily schedule conveniently for our planned break between lunch and dessert.  The spa treatments (massages, facials, etc) may only be 20 minutes, but, they really do an impressive job, far better than the massages in the British Airways lounge at Heathrow, where they are just chair massages behind a little curtain.

In the Qantas lounge, treatments are done in private treatment rooms, with candles burning, calm music playing, and plants galore.  It really creates a serene environment, and I was able to instantly forget where I was, or that I had a very long flight coming up.  Again, unlike the BA lounge where you hear everything going on around you.

I picked a back massage, and even in the 20 minute slot it was done with oils.  It was really quite relaxing, although not a very deep massage given the time constraints.

I left the treatment room completely relaxed and unconcerned with any of the toils that may lay ahead in my day of travels.  Highly recommended.


 Gin Spriz, House Lemonade.
“Qantas Rockpool Four Pillas Gin, Aperol, and Sparkling Wine”
I started with the Gin Spritz, which was a wonderful choice.  It was bitter in a good way, and really quite enjoyable.  There were a few other signature cocktails, designed by the “Qantas Rockpool Mixologists”, but, I moved on to wine when I saw a bottle being decanted up at the bar.

The regular wine menu was tempting, with 3 different choices for shiraz and a pinot noir, my top two wines of choice, but, I know that when the bartender decants something up front, it is usually a better wine than those from the standard menu, so, I opted for that.

It was a lovely wine, unfortunately I didn’t record the name or even varietal (I planned to go back later to take notes, but, doh, time ran out!), but I can say it was really balanced, and both myself and another lady I met at the bar quite enjoyed it (yes, within a few minutes, a random stranger and I were cheers-ing each other at the bar, both loving the wine.  She had also just gotten a massage, and was in a great mood.  When are people this happy in an airport?)

Also up at the bar were salted cashews, which sound simple, but were really quite delicious.

Ojan opted for the house lemonade, “from Spicy Temple Sydney & Melbourne”.  It was fine lemonade.  The other non-alcoholic cocktails listed on the menu sounded even better to me, like the Passion Club with lychee puree, grapefruit juice, passionfruit, and lime juice, or the Ginger Soda with pineapple, lime, soda water, and mint, but, alas, we didn’t wind up with enough time to move on to yet another round of cocktails.


Massages aside, you are here because this is a dining blog, and, well, that is really what I was excited about too.

As always, the menu has many enticing options, ranging from small plates, to sandwiches, to entrees, to sides, to desserts.  Some items never change, like the signature salt and pepper squid and the minute steak, but others change out slightly every few moths, such as the pasta dish, always an option, but served with different seasonal ingredients.  On this visit, they also featured American dishes, a nod towards the new partnership between American Airlines and Qantas ,and their new routes from LAX and SFO.
The menu, in full:
All Day Dining:
  • Buffalo mozzarella with heirloom tomatoes, basil and balsamic vinegar
  • Avocado and quinoa salad with summer corn and pepitas
  • Ocean trout with daikon, sesame togarashi and organic soy
  • Salt and pepper squid with green chilli dipping sauce and aioli
  • Five spice duck salad with green mango, beansprouts and rau ram
  • Minestrone Soup (Market Inspiration)
  • Spiced chicken wings with ranch dressing (American Airlines Partnership Celebration Dish)
  • Club sandwich with chicken, slow roasted tomatoes, bacon and aioli
  • Crumbed fish burger with Japanese pickles and horseradish mayonnaise
  • American burger with fries (American Airlines Partnership Celebration Dish)
  • Spaghettini with asparagus, cauliflower pangrattato, basil and a poached egg
  • Snapper with warm zucchini, heirloom tomatoes and white bean salad
  • Stir fried chicken breast with yellow bean sauce and fresh rice noodles
  • Mirrool Creek Lamb with tamarind, chickpeas, tomato and coriander yoghurt
  • Grass fed beef minute steak with tarragon, shallot butter and chips
  • Thai chilli basil beef with free range egg and jasmine rice (Market Inspiration)
  • Bowl of chips
  • Mixed leaves with palm sugar vinaigrette
  • Wild rocket and parmesan salad
  • Steamed seasonal greens with Colonna lemon oil
  • Seasonal fruit plate
  • Hazelnut meringue with chocolate ganache and cocoa sorbet
  • Nectarine ‘trifle’ with gingerbread and lychee granita
  • Pavlova in a glass with mango and passionfruit
  • Gelatomassi gelato and sorbet selection
    • Caramel, Belgian chocolate or roasted almond gelato
    • Raspberry or Passionfruit sorbet
  • Cheese plate with accompaniments
  • Sundae with chocolate sauce and “Oreo” crumbs (American Airlines Partnership Celebration Dish)
Ocean trout with daikon, sesame togarashi, and organic soy.
I unfortunately wasn’t very hungry when we first sat down (I know, I know, i should know better!  But, it was also my last day at my hotel breakfast, and I wanted everything there too!), so I was planning to skip the small plates.  Ojan recalled liking the sashimi before though, so, he wanted it again.  It was ocean trout this time.

The sashimi was good, clearly quality fish, light, fresh.  It had grated daikon on top, and was dressed with soy sauce.  Ojan commented that it was decent, but, needed wasabi.

It was also strange to eat sashimi with a fork.  Last time, he was provided chopsticks.

If I had been hungrier, I would have ordered the salt and pepper squid, as it really always is quite good in Sydney (not so much in LA), or the buffalo mozzarella with heirloom tomatoes, as that looked quite good too, and I was headed back to winter in California, so it was my last chance at fresh tomatoes.  But, we only got this one appetizer and moved on.
Crumbed fish burger with Japanese pickles and horseradish mayonnaise.
Yes, I Julie, girl who doesn't like sandwiches, ordered something from the sandwich section.  Why?  Because this is seriously the best fish burger ever.  I discovered it on my last visit, and was thrilled to see that it remained, unchanged, on the menu a year later.

To be fair, I didn’t love it quite as much this time, but I think I went into it with crazy high expectations this time around, since I had adored it so last time.  That said, it was still very, very good.

The bun looks like a generic bun, and, it kinda is, but it is soft and fluffy, really quite fresh, and goes great with the burger.  The fish is crumbed and crispy, and was the only part I didn’t love this time, as it was a bit fishy.  It is slathered, very generously, in mayo.  So much mayo.  But, that is what makes it really good.  The menu says “horseradish mayonnaise”, which it said last time too, but we didn’t taste any horseradish.  The lettuce was fresh and crisp, and also went great with the mayo and fish.  Add in some flavorful slices of Japanese pickles, and, well, you have a killer fish burger.

There aren’t a lot of frills here, but, it is really, really good.  The components of the burger just come together so well.  I’d get it again, any day, and hope it is less fishy next time.
Spaghettini with asparagus, cauliflower pangrattato, basil, and a poached egg.

We also opted for the spaghettini, mostly because Ojan wanted it, and I had read good things about the poached egg on top.  Our previous pasta experience in the lounge was fairly lackluster, as the lemon butter sauce overwhelmed the Morton Bay bugs, so I wasn’t particularly excited for this.

It was actually pretty good.  The pasta was nicely cooked, not mushy, not too al dente.  The asparagus was still a bit crunchy, in a good way, and very fresh, and so welcome as I was about to head back to winter.  The cauliflower was lightly fried, and was almost awesome, except that it was a bit soggy.  It would have been much better crispy, like breadcrumbs on top.  The large shreds of Parmesan were great with the asparagus and the cauliflower.

The poached egg was the only disappointment.  In the photos and descriptions I had read, everyone talks about how you cut it open and the yolk oozes all over the pasta, coating it, creating a luxurious sauce.  This sounded great.  Unfortunately, our egg didn’t ooze.  If I were having it for breakfast, I’d actually say it was nicely poached, but, I wanted the ooze for my pasta.  Without it, the sauce was a bit bland, mostly just seasoned oil.

So, overall, this was, as Ojan put it, “fine but boring”.  I really did like the cheese, asparagus, and cauliflower though!
Dessert: Pavlova in a glass with mango and passionfruit (First Class Lounge).
I don’t generally like pavlova.  So, why would I order pavlova, even if it is their signature dessert?  It is always on the menu, although it changes out fruits and sauces seasonally.  Well, because I knew this was deconstructed, not a traditional pavlova that is just too much meringue so it had that going for it.  But also, the fruits were mango and passionfruit, such treats while in season in Australia.  That said, if I hadn’t just had cheesecake and gelato in the business lounge (review coming soon!), I definitely would have ordered the special sundae that was part of the American Airlines celebration, with hot fudge and Oreo crumbles.  Or maybe one of the gelato from this lounge, as they offered a fancier brand (Gelatomassi) and better flavors (caramel and roasted almond!).  But, I knew that this pavlova was something special, so, I finally went for it.

And … it was really good!  Definitely the best pavlova I’ve ever had.

In the bottom was chunks of mango and passionfruit.  There was also a red sauce, but we weren’t quite sure what it was.  Layered in the glass were soft meringues and cream.  And on top … fairy floss (cotton candy to us Americans).  Why the fairy floss?  I have no idea.  Can you eat it with a spoon along with the pavlova?  Not easily.  But is it delicious, and a great way to start the dessert.  Yes!

This was a very sweet dish.  The mango and passionfruit were very sweet naturally, fresh, and wonderful.  The meringues were also sweetened, fluffy, and because they didn’t dominate the dish, I actually welcomed them.  They added just a bit of chewy texture to each spoonful.  The cream was thick and rich, needed to contrast the sweet fruit.

Overall, delightful, and I’d get it again.  I'm glad I was rewarded for trying something I don't normally like.

Original Review, February 2014

Four years ago, Ojan and I visited the Qantas First Class lounge in Sydney, courtesy of our friend Emil.  It was an experience I'll never forget; my first time in a premium lounge, and wow, what a premium lounge it is.  Now that I have more comparison points, like the Cathay Pacific lounges in Hong Kong, the Britsh Airways Concorde Room in Heathrow, and the Qantas First Class lounge in LAX, I can still say this lounge is top notch.  The others all have their special touches, particularly the cabanas at Cathay's Wing Lounge, but the Qantas First Class lounge is a wonderful experience.  Yes, it has a spa with free treatments and an amazing full service restaurant.  The food far exceeds any other lounge I've visited.

So when I was recently in Sydney, you can guess I was quite excited to visit again once it was time to depart.

Normally, you can only check in at an airport a few hours before your flight.  We learned this the hard way last time, when we over-zealously arrived early, planning to get a fabulous breakfast in the lounge, hang around and get spa treatments, and then have lunch, only to find out that we weren't able to check in, so we instead spent our time sitting at the First Class check-in area out in the terminal.  Doh (although, they did have nice comfortable seating!).  And honestly, normally, you don't WANT to be at the airport any longer than necessary right?  But, Qantas is running a trial that allows check-in anytime the day of the flight, so even though our flight was scheduled for 5pm, we were able to arrive at noon to get the full lounge experience.  This time, we breezed through check-in, and eagerly made our way to the lounge.

You may laugh, but next time, I'd honestly come even earlier.  I'd get a fabulous breakfast (I still have fond memories of the bircher muesli and porridge and eggs benny!), then I'd get a spa treatment, and I could spend the afternoon working on my laptop in the lounge.  The seating is comfortable, the wifi is fast, why not?  It sure beats being at the hotel.

Anyway, as before, we loved our time in the lounge.  The hours flew by.  I couldn't believe when it was time to board.  And as before, the food wowed us.  Honestly, the food served in here is top notch, and better than most meals we had in Sydney, even though we dined at top establishments.  If I could pay to get into this restaurant, I would.

The staff were all very friendly and quite lovely.  I chatted with nearly everyone, from the reception staff, to the snack station attendant, to the barista, and I honestly enjoyed interacting with each and every one of them.
Living Plant Wall
The moment you enter the First Class lounge, you know you are in for something special.  The entrance hallway features a stunning wall of living plants, which sets the tranquil mood immediately.

Speaking of tranquil, protip, the first thing to do, upon entering, is book a spa treatment (unless of course you are flying in First, which allows you to book in advance).  Treatment options include several types of massage ("Bliss back massage", "De-stress back massage", or "Reviving neck, shoulder & scalp massage"), several types of facials (one just for men), or foot or hand therapy.  Not that we were particularly stressed, but we opted for the "De-stressing back massage", aka, a basic back massage. My understanding is that the "bliss" version uses less pressure?

De-stressing massages booked, we were off to explore.
Comfortable Seating.
The main area is filled with comfortable seating, mostly facing the runways and overlooking downtown Sydney.  Many chairs are recliners.  The view really is amazing, the space comfortable, so bright and airy.

With actual decent working wifi, it is not a bad place to spend the afternoon, and just work away on our laptops.  The wifi was far superior to any we found in hotels in Sydney.
Flight Board.
Departing flights are listed on an old-school train board, a cute touch.
Snack Station.
There is a small snack station, self-service.
Self-Service Soft Drinks and Juices.
Adjacent to the snacks is self-serve cold bottled beverages, including ginger beer and assorted juices, which made Ojan quite happy.
Self-Service Wine, Beer.
And of course, wine and beer.  I really appreciated the self-service areas, even in a First Class lounge.  Many do not have this option, and it just feels more relaxed and comfortable to just be able to get something for myself when I want it, rather than needing to get a server's attention.
Self-Service Coffee and Tea.
Of course there are hot drinks too, with a coffee machine that actually has decaf that it grinds to order, and a good lineup of T2 tea (our favorite tea in Australia!).  Excellent selection.
I tried a few assorted nibbles, like the massive olives and the spiced macadamias.  They were fine, but not remarkable.  I didn't try any of the charcuterie or crackers, because, why eat this when there is a full service restaurant, a really, really good one at that?

But of course, you know me and desserts.  I had to try the desserts, even if I wanted to order ALL THE DESSERTS from the restaurant too.  How could I pass up trying more dessert?

The first was a "lemon delicious" cake, that I didn't really care for, which isn't surprising, given that I don't really like lemon.  I should have resisted this, but, alas, I just couldn't.

Next, a passionfruit tart.  It looked similar to the one I'd been enjoying in my hotel executive lounge the past few days, so I was eager to try it.  The base was really tasty, a buttery crumble.  The next layer was a thick cream, not quite cheesecake, not quite mousse.  It was fine, but not outstanding.  The top was a thicker passionfruit gel, sweet and tart, not bad, but again, not outstanding.

These desserts were fine, but did I mention, I wanted everything on the restaurant dessert menu?  It was time to move on.
Bar Area.
Adjacent to the restaurant is a bar area, outfitted in gorgeous white marble.  You can have a full meal there at the bar, or move into the more formal dining space, which we did.

The far end of the bar also has a barista with espresso machine, and jars of fresh baked cookies.
Dining Area.
Tables are set elegantly, with placemats and wine glasses.  We choose a seat right along the window, and really enjoyed the view.

Service in the restaurant was perhaps the only downfall of the lounge; water glasses often went empty, no offer of tomato sauce (ketchup) was made with the chips (fries), a crumbed veal entree was delivered instead of a crumbed fish sandwich, and my coffee never came, even after I waited 30 minutes.  The food more than made up for service falters though.
Summer Menu, Feb 2015.
The restaurant serves breakfast until mid-day and then a "All Day" menu after.  The menu rotates seasonally, and is broken into starters, mains, sides, and desserts, plus Signature Sandwiches and a special "Market Inspiration" section that changes more frequently.

The menu for Summer was:

  • Buffalo mozzarella with heirloom tomatoes and basil
  • Zucchini and squash salad with Meredith feta, white beans, lemon and thyme
  • Salt & pepper squid with green chilli dipping sauce and aioli
  • Smoked salmon with kipfler potato salad and shallot dressing
  • Spaghettini with Moreton Bay bug, peas, asparagus, lemon and mint
  • Grilled blue eye cod with tandoori roasted carrots, coriander and fresh coconut sambol
  • Chicken stir fried with hot bean paste, snow peas and jasmine rice
  • Crumbed veal with garlic, capers, spinach and agrodolce
  • Black angus minute steak with tarragon butter and chips
Signature Sandwiches
  • Club sandwich with chicken, slow roasted tomatoes, bacon & aioli
  • Beef burger with bacon, Gruyère, Zuni pickle & tomato chilli relish
  • Crumbed fish burger with Japanese pickles & horseradish mayonnaise
Side Dishes
  • Bowl of chips
  • Mixed leaves with palm sugar vinaigrette
  • Wild rocket & parmesan salad
  • Steamed seasonal greens with Colonna lemon oil
Market Inspiration
  • Zucchini & parmesan soup
  • Black cobia sashimi with horseradish, chives & organic soy
  • Thai basil chilli beef with organic egg & steamed rice
  • Summer snow pea risotto with shaved pecorino
Dessert and Cheese
  • Seasonal fruit plate
  • Nectarines with croissant slice, verjus, vanilla ice cream and toasted almonds
  • Buttermilk panna cotta with piel de sapo melon, Noble One and pistachios
  • Pavlova in a glass with yoghurt gelato, strawberry and passionfruit
  • Gelatomassi gelato & sorbet selection: White chocolate, Belgian chocolate or Strawberry gelato, Pink lady apple or Lemon sorbet
  • Cheese by Calendar Cheese Company: Comté la Couronne, St Agur & Brillat Savarin, served with Accompaniments
We wanted basically everything, but decided to order one starter and two mains to start, and vowed to come back for dessert and another round of appetizers after we digested a bit.

The wine list is always impressive as well, and I started with the server's recommendation of the Kilikanoon ‘Mort’s Block’ Riesling 2013, Claire Valley, South Australia, which was one of the better white wines I had on the entire trip.  They don't skimp on the alcohol selection at all.
Starter: Salt & pepper squid with green chilli dipping sauce and aioli.
Basically all the starters that sounded temping, including buffalo mozzarella with heirloom tomatoes and basil, smoked salmon with kipler potato salad and shallot dressing, and black cobia sashimi from the special market inspiration section.  Ojan decided we could come back for the sashimi later in the afternoon, a move I fully supported.

We narrowed in on one selection, the signature dish: salt and pepper squid.  It is a menu staple, and although most of the menu rotates seasonally, this one always remains, and has been on the menu for years.  We had the salt and pepper squid when we first visited the Qantas First Class lounge 4 years ago, and we loved it then, so I had rather high expectations.  I somehow wound up eating squid or calamari on a near daily basis during my time in Sydney, and was feeling rather addicted to it.  They do it well in Australia.  I had great expectations.  But then again, we had the salt & pepper squid at the Qantas First Lounge in LA on our way to Sydney, and it was fairly disappointing then.  This helped ease my expectations slightly.

I need not have worried.  It was wonderful!  It was delivered piping hot, clearly fresh out of the fryer.  I actually had to wait a moment for it to cool.  We intended to order one dish to share, but, we were each brought a full serving.  Doh.  This was foiling our plans to order more later!

The crust provided a perfectly crispy exterior, the squid was perfectly cooked and moist inside, tender and not chewy.  I appreciated the assortment of pieces, some wider, some thicker, all offering up their own slightly unique texture.  My favorites were the smaller, thinner pieces that had curled up, they had a bit more of a meaty character to them.

The sliced red chilies packed a punch, and were perfect to add a kick to a bite or two.

Just like in LAX, I didn't care for the green chilli dipping sauce, but I did enjoy the aioli, creamy and slightly garlicky, perfect for dunking.

This was probably the best version of salt and pepper squid I've ever had, and I'd gladly pay money for it in a restaurant.  I still can't believe that this airline lounge serves something this good.  However, it was my second favorite dish of the meal, the best was yet to come ...
Main: Spaghettini with Morton Bay bugs, peas, asparagus, lemon and mint.
Next we moved on to a main dish, spaghettini.  We both recalled enjoying a pasta dish on our previous visit, and given that it is not summer in San Francisco, it had been ages since I'd had asparagus or peas, and this sounded fabulous.

It wasn't.  My one word review: butter.  All butter.

The pasta was fine, but, not particularly exciting.  The peas however weren't cooked all the way, a bit too hard.  I did of course love the fresh, tender asparagus.  Wow, I miss asparagus, and it was really quite nice dunked in the sauce.

But the sauce is where the problem was.  It was very rich, a butter sauce, slightly lemony.  It was good, but really too much, the dish was just too rich from it.  The lemon accent was quite nice though, particularly with the veggies and light seafood.  A piece of asparagus dunked in the sauce was quite good, but otherwise, it overwhelmed the entire dish.

And finally, the seafood: Morton Bay bugs!  Ojan and I first encountered these on our first visit to Australia, when we stayed on an island, and we really didn't like them in that preparation.  Ojan has long said he never wanted to try them again, but I kept insisting that perhaps we just had the wrong preparation.  It turns out I was right, these bugs were not offensive at all!  Tender, mild, moist, like little bits of prawn basically.  But sadly, the delicate flavor was lost in the sauce.

Overall, I didn't love this dish, as I don't really care for pasta dishes of this style, and the sauce was just too much, but, I did appreciate the asparagus and am glad to know that I do indeed like Morton Bay bugs.  We can remove them from the banned list.
Signature Sandwiches: Crumbed fish burger with Japanese pickles & horseradish mayonnaise.
Next up, a "Signature Sandwich".  Yes, not what I normally ever order.  I never, ever order sandwiches.  Particularly when there were other main dish options that sounded good.  On our previous visit, we also had a fantastic seafood dish, so I was quite tempted by the grilled blue eye cod with tandoori roasted carrots, corriander, and fresh coconut sambal.  But, for some reason, I was lured in by the fish burger.  Yes, the sandwich.

I don't know what got into me, but I'm seriously glad it did.  This was crazy delicious.  The bun was light, fluffy, and toasted.  It was absolutely smothered in mayo.  I didn't taste any horseradish in the mayo as described, but I didn't actually care.  Sure, there was too much mayo.  It was excessive.  But it was really creamy and, just like the aioli with the fried squid, it went perfectly with the fried fish.

The fish was moist, mild white fish, probably barramundi.  The crust was excellent, crunchy and perfectly crisp.  I loved the fish and the mayo!  It totally made up for my very mediocre fish and chips at Watsons Beach Club, and beat the pants off the fried breaded seafood that I thought was quite good at the Sheraton Executive Lounge.

If that wasn't enough, the Japanese pickles added more crunch, a hit of flavor, and vibrant color  .The lettuce freshened the dish up a bit, making you momentarily forget that you were eating fried food and vats of mayo.

This was the best fish sandwich I've ever had.  Granted, I never order fish sandwiches, and I haven't had that many, but it was incredible.  The crispy fish and mayo alone would have been perfectly satisfying, but combined with the bread and veggies, it really turned into the perfect comfort food, and is one of the most satisfying things I've consumed in a long time.

I still can't get over how much I enjoyed it, and it was certainly my favorite dish in the lounge, and one of the most memorable food items I've had in a long time.  And yes, I realize that I'm saying this about a FISH SANDWICH.  It makes me quite sad that I can't return to order again, without flying out of Sydney's international airport, in First Class, or with high OneWorld status.  I still don't understand how this lounge restaurant manages to trump pretty much every regular restaurant in Sydney!
Spa Treatment Room.
After our meal, we ventured over to the business class lounge to check it out, and then returned for our spa treatments.

As I mentioned, I booked a de-stressing massage, which was a basic back massage.  The last time I visited the Qantas lounge, treatments were a full 30 or 60 minutes, but they have now been reduced to only 20 minutes, to allow more people to book them.  More fair I guess, but I'd prefer a full hour :)

Even with such a short time, it was a real massage, not just a chair massage.  It was a full private room, and was done fully unclothed on top, with oils and everything.  It is amazing how relaxing just a 20 minute massage can be!  The products used smelt great, there was soothing music playing.  Far better than the massage experience in the British Airways lounge in Heathrow, where it was done fully clothed, and just behind a little curtain.
Shower with Bathroom.
I also peeked into the shower areas, private rooms complete with sinks and mirrors, toilets, and rainfall showers, and nice toiletries.

After our treatments and tour of the business lounge, we were running out of time to eat more, so it was time to indulge again.  My plan was for just dessert, but Ojan wanted more real food.
Starter: Black cobia sashimi with horseradish, chives, and organic soy.
When we dined the first time, Ojan said he was coming back for the sashimi.  He made good on his claim.

I of course had to try a bite.  It was delicate, lovely sashimi, obviously very fresh, and quite honestly, far better than what we had at fancy, expensive Sokyo a few days earlier.

Just like with the fish burger, I didn't taste the horseradish that the menu claimed existed, and Ojan felt it was a bit over-soy sauced and would have preferred to have a dipping sauce on the side, but overall, this was a lovely light dish.  They also included chopsticks, a nice touch.
Main: Black angus minute steak with tarragon butter and chips.
Ojan also decided to order the steak!  Why?  Because he ordered it on our previous visit, and remembered how much he loved it.  And obviously, this was going to be much, much better than anything served on board the flight, so he figured he'd basically eat dinner here, and just snack on the flight.

I snagged a chip, but they were very boring, no different from frozen.  I didn't try the steak, but it was thin and very juicy, and he devoured it.  The butter was a bit excessive, and he quickly removed it, to avoid it melting into the steak.  I also tried the butter, and it was quite tasty, infused with tarragon.
Tomato Sauce.
No offer of tomato sauce (ketchup, for you Americans) was made, but after a while, Ojan decided he wanted some, and asked.  It came back, plated so nicely!  No squirt bottles here.
Dessert: Nectarines with croissant slice, verjus, vanilla ice cream, and toasted almonds.
I of course had my sights firmly locked on dessert.  I kinda wanted them all: panna cotta! Gelato!  But since Ojan wasn't getting dessert, I picked only one, my first choice.  From my research, I knew that "croissant slice" meant bread pudding, something I always adore.

I also went for a glass of Heemskerk Pinot Noir 2011, Derwent Valley & Coal River Valley, Tasmania, which was beautiful and smooth, and I really enjoyed.  They serve some quality wines in this lounge.

The dessert however wasn't very good.  The "nectarines" was literally just a full nectarine, sliced in half, and put on the plate.  It was fresh, perfectly ripe and juicy, but, I sorta wanted something done with it.  I expected it to be cooked down or at least sliced up more.  Likewise, the almonds, just slivered almonds sprinkled on top.  Underneath was a sweet sauce, nectarine I'm assuming, or perhaps verjus, but it was just sweet and I didn't care for it either.

The scoop of ice cream on the side was fine, but it was just plain vanilla ice cream, not particularly exciting.

But the real issue was the croissant slice.  I was expecting amazing croissant bread pudding.  And this ... wasn't.  I though it would be served hot, and it was room temperature.  Strike one.  I always want warm dessert with cold ice cream.  I thought it would have a crispy top and moist, custardy interior, but it was just some bound together croissants, no real custard base. Strike two.  And it didn't really taste like much of anything.  Strike three.

There was just nothing exciting about it.  Plain nectarines, plain vanilla ice cream, dry croissant shaped like a cake.  I didn't want it.
Dessert: Buttermilk panna cotta, Noble One, and pistachios.
I couldn't end with that lackluster croissant slice, so I also ordered my second choice: panna cotta, a dish I love so much that my blog even has a label devoted to it.

The panna cotta is normally served with piel de sapo melon, but since I'm allergic to melons, I had to get it without.

The panna cotta was fine, it had a nice wiggle, was well set, but, it didn't actually have much flavor, certainly no buttermilk tang.  The sweet sauce was nice, and I liked the crunch from the pistachios.  I think I preferred the panna cotta in the Qantas lounge in LA though.

Perhaps I was just stuffed from our meal and my lounge hopping, but the desserts really didn't do it for me, the weakest part of our experience.


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  2. Great first class lounge review for the year. Such great services puts an airport on top in the world with their amazing facilities including airport parking for the passengers.
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