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December 14, 2013 / oneworld82

A Tasting Menu: Qantas First Class (A388) MEL-LAX

Flight QF93, MEL-LAX

Aug 22nd, 2013

First Class, Seat 2A

A380-800

The long-awaited moment had finally arrived… it was time to jump aboard Qantas’ A380… once again… but in First Class this time. Thinking in retrospective, I quite cannot believe that I had booked this flight 331 days in advance and that built my vacation around this one single flight. Crazy stuff we frequent flyers do, I suppose. Yet, it was totally worth it. I feel I can now tick off my bucket list yet another one of the World’s best first class products. Granted, having flown Lufthansa AND Etihad first class on this very same trip somewhat reduced the anticipation generated by this flight. Yet, it was quite a flight that I will cherish forever.

I was among the last passengers to board – why hurry up out of the wonderful First Class lounge after all? I love boarding in first class, too. Bypassing the long line of all those poor, economy class passengers always feels good (and I have done a huge number of Y flights in my life, so I know the pain!). Once aboard, I was directed to my suite by one of the flight attendants. The impression of the first class cabin was very good: it is a big, well laid-out space, although I must admit I liked the tones, layout, and overall feeling of LH F and EY F better. Nonetheless, my suite was spacious, with enough storage space for a little army! I sat down my chair – very comfortable indeed – and while I was orientating myself my assigned flight attendant came by to introduce himself and to offer me a pre-departure drink. I had some champagne, which was promptly served and accompanied by some tasty olives. Now, I liked (a lot) how the olives were presented all soaked in extra-virgin olive oil (and the taste was great as well, just like home in Italy)… but the fact that no toothpick or other instrument to pick the olives up (without messing all my hands up) were provided was a little negative note.

Pre-Departure drink and snacks

Pre-Departure drink and snacks

Back to the suite: my carry-on fit perfectly under the ottoman in front of the seat, and there was a lot of space where to store my computer and other random items I wanted to keep handy. The seat itself is similar to AA’s flagship suite seat on the new 77W, although the layout is clearly different and more private. The FA brought me a pajama and an amenity kit. Qantas offers pjs in business class as well, but the quality of those isn’t very good. First Class ones – instead – are very good (nice fabric) and comfortable. The amenity kit featured SK-II cosmetic products – high-end Japanese stuff that would hit your wallet hard were you to buy these creams yourself. Overall, I was very pleased with the amenities we were offered.

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Control pad

Control pad

Storage space

Storage space

Comfortable pajamas

Comfortable pajamas

Spacious "suite"

Spacious “suite”

Shades down

Shades down

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Pre-Departure drink and snacks

Pre-Departure drink and snacks

We pushed back on time and took off smoothly. I was once again impressed by how quiet this plane is! Such a delicate giant of the skies. Once airborne and once the seat belt sign had been turned off, a first round of (many) drinks was offered – I got some champagne. Then, the flight attendant came by to take lunch orders. For those of you who don’t know, Qantas offers a tasting menu crafted by top chefs on its long-haul First class cabin. The menu is of course customizable, although I opted to keep it as presented on the menu, which by the way read as follows:

AUSTRALIA TO LOS ANGELES

TASTING MENU

—————————————

Smoked Ocean Trout Crostini with Pickled Cucumber

Grilled Corn and Pine Nut Empanada with Coriander Sour Cream

Cauliflower Soup with Gruyere and Herb Crumbs

Salad of Beetroot, Rocket and Goats Curd with Toasted Almonds and Balsamic Vinaigrette

Pan Fried Blue Eye with Moroccan Lentils, Carrot Puree and Cafe de Paris Butter

OR

Rockpool Bar &  Grill Style Seared Beef Fillet with Green Beans, Potato and Cabbage Gratin and your choice of Horseradish Cream, Hot English Mustard or Seeded Mustard

Salad of Baby Cos, Radicchio and Frisee with Palm Sugar Vinaigrette

Quince, Lemon and Almond Upside Down Cake with Double Cream

Three Seasonal Cheeses served with Accompaniments

Cacao Handmade Chocolates

LUNCH

CANAPES

Smoked Ocean Trout Crostini with Pickled Cucumber

Grilled Corn and Pine Nut Empanada with Coriander Sour Cream

SOUP & SALAD

Cauliflower Soup with Gruyere and Herb Crumbs

Salad of Beetroot, Rocket and Goats Curd with Toasted Almonds and Balsamic Vinaigrette

Salad of Yamba Prawns with Perino Tomatoes and Palm Sugar Vinaigrette

SMALL PLATES

Big Bowl of Porcini Mushroom and Pearl Barley Soup

Baked Spinach and Feta Tart with Leaf Salad and Balsamic Vinaigrette

Chicken and Rosemary Pot Pie

Our Signature Steak Sandwich with Tomato and Chili Relish

MAIN PLATES

Creamed Spinach and Pumpkin Lasagna with Roasted Tomato Sauce

Steamed Blue Eye and Vegetables with Lemon and Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Pan Fried Blue Eye and Vegetables with Lemon and Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Pan Fried Blue Eye with Moroccan Lentils, Carrot Puree and Cafe de Paris Butter

Cassoulet of Murraylands Lamb with White Beans and Snow Peas

Rockpool Bar & Grill Style Seared Beef Fillet with Green Beans, Potato and Cabbage Gratin and your choice of Horseradish Cream, Hot English Mustard or Seeded Mustard

All main plates served with a side salad of Baby Cos, Radicchio and Frisee with your choice of Palm Sugar Vinaigrette, Aged Balsamic or Lemon Dressing

CHEESE

Three Seasonal Cheeses served with Accompaniments

DESSERT

Chocolate Bread and Butter Pudding

Quince, Lemon and Almond Upside Down Cake with Double Cream

Nice Cream Chocolate Coated Vanilla Ice Cream

Whole or Sliced Seasonal Fruit

PETITE FOURS

Cacao Handmade Chocolates

Oatmeal Cookie

The trout crostini and the empanada were actually amuse bouches brought with my bubbly before the meal. Both were tasty and high quality.

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Amuse bouche

Amuse bouche

I would say that about half a hour passed before my table were set up for lunch (which gave me time to start watching The Great Gatsby). The table presentation was absolutely neat – very similar to what I got on Lufthansa 10 days earlier.

Table: set

Table: set

Then, the food started coming. The soup was delicious – right consistency, good texture, nice flavor. It’s the second soup (out of two that I tried) that Qantas gets right. Kudos to them indeed!

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After the soup, a tasty beetroot and goat cheese salad was delivered. I liked the complexity of flavors in it and the vinaigrette complemented all the ingredients nicely.

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After a 10 minutes hiatus, the main dish was served. I opted for the Rockpool fillet. It was good. The dish came together very well; the meat was cooked medium, and was tasty. I wouldn’t rather this steak dish as highly as the one I had on Etihad, but it certainly stood its ground.

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The baby cos salad that came with the steak was very good as well.

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At this point I was quite full. And with quite, I mean a lot. Yet, cheese and dessert were still to come. The former was well-presented – the selection of crackers and dried fruit was satisfactory. The upside down cake was delicious – moist and sweet right to the point.

Cheese

Cheese

Dessert

Dessert

I ended the meal with a much needed espresso, followed by a glass of Hennessy XO. Which quickly became two.

Espresso & Hennessy XO

Espresso & Hennessy XO

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I think that – by the time I was done with my coffee – I was sweating and I had accelerated heartbeat. I sat happily (re: in a food come) finishing my movie, before getting up and roaming around the plane a bit.  I went to the galley and then upstairs to check the “lounge” out. Quite spacious indeed – a great place where to work or unwind.

Upstairs we go

Upstairs we go

Spacious lounge

Spacious lounge

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Nice selectionof magazines

Nice selectionof magazines

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The lounge area is definitely one of the nice(r) things of an already amazing plane (A380). Different airlines utilize this space differently, but the sense of space and openness that this airbus plane gives is unmatched in the industry. Kudos to Airbus indeed.

After returning to my seat, I asked to have my bed made. I went to change into my pajamas – comfortable but not as nice as Cathay Pacific’s – and when I came back the flight attendant was finishing up with mattress and linens. The bed looked luxurious, the mattress was comfortable… but I felt odd having an empty space behind my head instead of some sort of headboard – it didn’t help the feeling of being on a “real” bed. Overall, I’d say this is a less comfortable bed than LH’s or EY’s, which is too bad. I tried to sleep, but given that it was mid-day Australia time I couldn’t even nap. I decided to watch more movies (The Aviator and then Psycho) trying to fall asleep, but nothing significant happened. Boy, 14 hours are surely long when you don’t sleep… even in First Class! I hence opted for a cappuccino, nicely served with some biscuits.

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One of the things I didn’t necessarily like on Qantas First Class was the absence of a dedicated “snack” section in the menu for such a long flight. Granted, there was an asterisk next to some of the lunch dishes which meant that those particular plates were available anytime during the flight. Still, I think that wasn’t enough for such a long flight and for first class. I wasn’t – of course – hungry the least; but assuming I were hungry, I wouldn’t have liked it too much.

Anyways, about 90 minutes before landing it was breakfast time, and the flight attendant suggested I had “breakfast in bed”. He literally prepared my table while the bed was still made, allowing for the cool feeling of really having brekkie served in all the comforts of my very own suite’s bed. Although it wasn’t a particularly comfortable proposition, I liked the idea.

The breakfast menu, by the way, read as follows:

BREAKFAST

BEVERAGES

Orange Juice

Apple Juice

Tomato Juice

Cranberry Juice

Santa Vittoria Peach Nectar

Santa Vittoria Pear Nectar

Berry Energiser

FRUIT & CEREAL

Seasonal Fruit Salad

Bircher Muesli

Cereal Selection

Brookfarm Toasted Muesli

Meredith Dairy Sheep’s Milk Yoghurt and Honey

BAKERY

Toast

Croissant

Berry Jam, Marmelade, Honey or Vegemite

Pain au Raisin

MAIN PLATES

Organic Scrambled Eggs on Toasted Brioche with Smoked Ocean Trout, Spinach and Lemon Creme Freche

Ricotta and Blueberry Pancakes with Maple Caramelised Pears and Mascarpone Cheese

Leg Ham and Gruyere Croissant

(A comprehensive selection of hot beverages accompanied this menu).

As I did not feel really hungry  I went straight for the main dish (eggs and trout) with a cappuccino. Boy, this dish delivered! The brioche was lightly toasted, the eggs tasty, the trout fresh. It was one of the very best egg dishes I had on a plane (if not the best).

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Breakfast is served

Breakfast is served

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The cappuccino was good – better than on LH but not as good as on EY. The plates were cleared promptly (I like when flight attendants don’t leave all your mess around for long), and after about 30 minutes the captain announced that we would be making an on-time landing in LAX.

A long flight indeed – but a delectable one. After trying QF J class in 2012, I was very excited to be trying its first class product. Is it a top notch product? Well, it certainly is. I still rate it below CX, LH, NH – for instance – but the experience provided on the ground (lounge) was top-notch (too bad I could not find the first class check-in area – that should be marked better) and the onboard experience was up there with the best as well. Certainly, it is nice to see a carrier from the West still be able to compete head to head with the fierce Asian competition. One has only to hope that this will continue – a big question mark indeed given the financial struggles of Qantas. But for now, well done, Flying Kangaroo. I hope I will get to fly you again soon!

P.S.

– The bed, like I said, wasn’t the best I have tried although it was good overall. Some photos:

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3 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. Will / Feb 19 2014 8:06 pm

    Hey there!

    Been reading your post and i’d have to say.. What a great life you have!

    Question though, how did you manage to get a free upgrade to business or first class in most occasion?

    Many thanks and regards,

    Will

  2. Will / Feb 19 2014 8:07 pm

    Hey there!

    Been reading your posts and i’d have to say.. What a great life you have! 🙂

    Question though, how did you manage to get a free upgrade to business or first class in most occasion?

    Many thanks and regards,

    Will

    • robertocusato / Feb 24 2014 8:08 am

      Hi Will,
      thanks for the kind comment! There is no secret to my lifestyle, just hard work and some help from credit card sign up bonuses 🙂

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