Qantas first class lounge: sampling the Summer 2014-2015 menu

By David Flynn, December 3 2014
Qantas first class lounge: sampling the Summer 2014-2015 menu

Summer is here, and that means a refreshed seasonal menu for the Qantas First Lounges in Sydney and Melbourne.

“Our summer menus almost write themselves” says Alexander Woolley, one of the chefs from Neil Perry’s Rockpool team who oversees Qantas’ in-lounge dining.

“There’s just so much great produce to cook with – great fruits are coming on, vegetables are at their peak, even summer herbs and leaves are taking off.”

The summer menu is noticeable for largely light textures and crisply flavoursome dishes, although there will also be mid-season tweaks until the Autumn 2015 menu is rolled out at the beginning of March.

Here’s our sampling of the new pre-flight delights and seasonally updated dishes which appear alongside all-time favourites. 

Breakfast: served to noon 

The Shaw River buffalo milk yoghurt is a standard of the breakfast menu, with the garnish changing to suit the seasons. In summer that means mango, toasted coconut shavings and a palm sugar syrup.

“Yoghurt is such a great way to start the day and this is such a great Australian product,” Woolley says.

“I enjoy mangos going up to Christmas when they’re starting to get sweet but also have good acidity, because early in the season they’re a little more tart.”

Woolley says that after Christmas the mangos will likely be swapped out for “yellow or white peaches or even nectarines” to take advantage of the very best fruits from week to week.

Likewise, the popular buttermilk pancakes are now topped with fresh blueberries and a ‘honey lemon yoghurt’ created by gently warming honey and lemon zest and mixing it into Shaw River yoghurt.

And don’t forget: a smoked bacon and organic egg brioche is also available for breakfast but doesn’t appear on the menu – it’s an unlisted ‘by request’ dish.

Tip: ask for the 'secret' breakfast at the Qantas First Lounge 

All-day: served from noon

The ever-popular buffalo mozzarella is once again partnered with juicy heirloom tomatoes, which pack the most flavour in summer, and finished with balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.

There’s also a summer salad with zucchini, squash, goat’s feta and white beans.

“This is Meredith feta from Victoria, it’s got the tanginess of goat feta but is creamy rather than crumbly” Woolley explains. “We’ve added white beans and lots of summer herbs, plus toasted sourdough breadcrumbs for a bit of crispy texture.”

A heartier salad is the smoked salmon with kipfler potatoes.

“This has a richer texture, so you could have an entree and this this as your main course” Woolley suggests.

The potatoes are steamed and marinated in red wine vinegar and olive oil, while sliced shallots are soaked in olive oil until they’re soft; the chefs then add chardonnay vinegar and spoon this over Huon smoked salmon.

We think it’ll be hard to go past the spaghettini with a Moreton Bay bug, peas, asparagus, lemon and mint. This is a delightful summer pasta which brings the delicate flavour of the shellfish to the fore.

If you’re a fan of fish you’ll be hooked on the grilled blue eye trevalla which is matched with ‘tandoori roasted carrots’, coriander and fresh coconut sambol, which Woolley says is “based on a Sri Lankan coconut relish with lime juice and chili.”

We found the tandoori spices were sharp but didn’t over-power the dish, and they’re indeed a great match with carrots.

Up next is a robust chicken stir-fry with hot bean paste and snow peas, which Woolley describes this dish as “a fairly straightforward dish with big punchy flavours.”

“We have some great stir-fry chefs in our kitchen” Woolley says, “and Neil Perry loves his stir-fries.”

The ‘hot bean paste’ is made from fermented soya beans mixed with chilli – and if you like your spicy dishes to push the needle to 11, Woolley says the chefs will be happy to oblige.

“If a customer says ‘hit me hard with the chilli’ they can definitely spice it up!”.

The menu then veers from east to west with crumbed veal served with garlic, capers, spinach and ‘agrodolce’ sweet and sour sauce made from a reduction of onions and currants in white wine and white wine vinegar.

To finish off the summer menu – if you’re not already finished off – there are two new desserts.

In the nectarines with croissant slice, pieces of fresh nectarine are served with a bread and butter croissant pudding slice and a sauce of nectarines cooked in verjus (unripened grape juice), then served with toasted almonds and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

This is another dish where the Qantas chefs can swap the stone fruit based on what’s best from the markets that day.

Our tasting saw the nectarines replaced by peaches. “If the nectarines come in and are a little bit firm we’ll leave them for a few days to ripen  and use some other stone fruit.”

The ‘croissant slice’ is similar to the popular bread and butter pudding from the lounge’s winter menu “but there’s a bit less custard and we caramelise it under the grill before it’s served” Woolley says.

A lighter alternative is the buttermilk pannacotta with melon.

“Everything about this is meant to be delicate” Woolley says, citing as example the rosewater in the pannacotta and the melon syrup.

The melon used is a sweet piel de sapo (‘toad skin’!) melon which is marinated overnight in Noble One dessert wine.

Rosewater is added to the melon juice  to create a light syrup and the dish is served sprinkled with toasted pistachio nuts.

The ‘deconstructed’ pavlova in a glass remains on the menu, of course, and gets a tropical shot courtesy of yoghurt gelato and summer fruits.

Most visitors to the lounge will see this served with strawberry and passionfruit but in our sampling session the pav featured pineapple and mango.

“This is one of those dishes we have great flexibility with, using fruits which are at their best” Woolley says. “We can also change it to pineapple and lime.”

Beyond those dozen seasonal dishes, don’t overlook the special ‘market inspirations’ which can change from day to day.

If you're visiting the Qantas First Lounge at Sydney or Melbourne through to the end of February 2015, click the links below to download a copy of the menu and start planning your first class feast!

Download: Qantas First Lounge: Summer 2014-2015 breakfast menu [150Kb PDF]

Download: Qantas First Lounge: Summer 2014-2015 all-day menu [150Kb PDF]

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David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Qantas - QFF Platinum

20 Mar 2012

Total posts 214

Looking forward to breakfast Friday and dinner next Tuesday!

C'est magnifique!

Can't wait to try that zucchini feta salad!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2223

I'll settle for the chicken stir-fry with hot bean paste and snow peas by having a padt phrik khing at my local Thai shop. :(

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Nov 2013

Total posts 18

I love this place its my second home

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Oct 2014

Total posts 14

hard life if you fly out of Brisbane, may as well live on another planet..!!

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