The co-pilot and I recently travelled to NZ to visit family on Waiheke Island. And because we were travelling internationally, we made use of the (new) Qantas first class lounge in Sydney – a small positive that comes from the co-pilot’s incessant travelling and consequent Platinum frequent flyer status. I was excited as this was to be my first time in the lounge – previous to this I’d only listened to the co-pilot boast about the delicious Neil Perry designed menu and free massages with a mixture of envy and murderous rage.
I was even more excited, when I was took the virtual tour of the lounge and saw the features on offer for myself. As we had a early evening flight, I prepared myself for the experience with a very light and early lunch, ensuring I would arrive at the lounge alert, alarmed and ready to ravage everything in sight!
My first impressions of the lounge were of surprise and wonder. Although I’d expected the first class lounge to be an improvement on the Qantas Club lounge, I wasn’t prepared for exactly how much. It was very spacious and bright with ambient lighting; smooth, curved lines throughout and plenty of luxurious white marble complemented with warm wooden tones decorating the interior. I had to force a level of decorum upon myself and stave off any sudden childish urges to clap my hands together with glee, let out an evil villian laugh and let myself loose on the kitchen and salon facilities.
We wasted no time and settled down to a champagne tasting of Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial, Verve Cliquot Ponsardin, and Verve A. Devaux Blanc de Noir. We’re not champagne connoisseurs, but having the luxury of comparing all three side-by-side, we thought the Moet had the most distinct and different flavour to the others; the Verve Cliquot had the most classic flavour you’d expect when drinking Champagne, which was quite acidic and citrus-y; and the Verve A. Devaux Blanc de Noir was the most enjoyable. Less acidic whilst still remaining a distinct tasting champagne. The co-pilot enjoyed it so much he is determined to buy some for our modest little wine collection.
Whilst sipping our champagnes our entrees arrived. I ordered the prawn and avocado salad with preserved lemon dressing which was delicious and refreshing. The prawns were large and juicy, the avocado rich and the herbs and lemon providing the refreshing cut through contrast. It wasn’t overly filling and the citric acid helped enhance my appetite. The chilli salt squid was a mixture of tender and slightly chewy tendrils, but the dressing was very tasty – an Asian inspired dressing that had notes of chilli, fish sauce, palm sugar and coriander. Yum!
We slipped in some drinks whilst we waited for our mains, and I tried out their Bloody Mary – very nice. Quite lemony which is just the way I like it.
Then came our mains: the Signature beef burger and the housemade tagliatelle. The beef burger had a perfectly cooked, tender beef pattie, gloriously smokey smokehouse bacon, gruyere, zuni pickle and tomato chilli relish. The smokiness of the bacon permeated throughout the burger, yet wasn’t overpowering and allowed the pickle and relish shine through. The burger itself was quite small – but this might be because the staff assume that customers will order 2 or 3 courses, so perfectly small in the scheme of the entire meal. The housemade tagliatelle was tasty too, the pasta was al dente and the herb crumbs crunchy and moreish – but the sardines a little too fishy for my taste. It was essentially pasta con le sarde and when I had this dish it Sicily, the sardines were freshly grilled and not fishy. These tasted like (good) canned sardines in comparison.
Lastly we indulged in dessert. Starting with a glass of sticky dessert wine each – the Noble One (2005) and the Scarborough Late Harvest Semillion (2007). As mentioned many times before, I don’t have much of a sweet tooth but boy do I like dessert wines and the ones on offer were some of my favourites. Both were luciously sweet without being cloying, the Noble One having a richer, lingering sweetness and the Scarborough (my pick) a more floral, lighter flavour.
Being quite full at this stage, I followed it up with a light and fluffy meringue topped with cream, mango, banana and passion fruit. The co-pilot opted for a small slice of stilton selected by the Cheese Master, Will Studd. Both delicious, but I couldn’t help wishing I wasn’t so full so that I could have tried some of the other desserts – the honey and fig icecream sounded divine, as did the “manna from heaven” raspberry and passionfruit cake. Next time my lovelies…
Even though I had high expectations of the dining experience and had been looking forward to it for a few days leading up to the event, I would have to say I left a very happy, pampered little glutton (and I might have been grinning quite uncontrollably).
Qantas First Class Lounge.
Available at Sydney and Melbourne International Airports.
Foodie in the know:
Qantas have done an exceptional job in creating exclusivity for their premium tier customers. Entry to the First Class lounge is reserved for only international travellers that are travelling First Class or are Platinum frequent flyer members. The lucrative perk for Platinum customers – you get this experience even if you’re travelling economy class! Take that in-flight food!