Qantas Sydney, Melbourne first class lounges: new winter 2024 menu

The latest seasonal menu for Qantas’ flagship lounges sees plenty of new dishes plus a refresh of the cocktail list.

By David Flynn, June 7 2024
Qantas Sydney, Melbourne first class lounges: new winter 2024 menu

“What’s on the latest menu at the Qantas first class lounge?”

It’s a surprisingly common question of top-tier Qantas Platinum and Qantas Platinum One frequent flyers who begin their journey from the Qantas International First Lounges at Sydney and Melbourne, alongside first class passengers and members of the elite Qantas Chairman’s Lounge.

But perhaps the question is not so surprising: the airline’s approach to seasonal menus means a raft of new dishes appears every four months, alongside a slew of evergreen favourites that can’t be taken off the menu lest riots break out.

One of the key benefits of holding Platinum or Platinum One status with Qantas is being able to begin your international flight at these lounges on when flying with Qantas, Jetstar, Emirates or other partner airlines – particularly Oneworld member airlines such as British Airways, Cathay Pacific, JAL, Malaysia Airline and Qatar Airways.

(That same perk is of course enjoyed by Emirates Skywards Platinum and Oneworld Emerald frequent flyers.)

Indeed, for many top-tier frequent flyers, Qantas’ Sydney First Lounge and Melbourne First Lounge are almost a home away from home.

Qantas' flagship Sydney International First Lounge.
Qantas' flagship Sydney International First Lounge.

Executive Traveller has previously taken you behind the scenes of how these menus are developed for winter and summer, so let’s just dive into the latest winter 2024 dishes now being served at the Qantas First Lounges in Sydney and Melbourne.

These are in addition to the special ‘secret’ menu reserved for actual first class passengers, along with Platinum One frequent flyers and Chairman’s Lounge members, who are seated in the roped-off ‘premium’ dining area – and to which there’s no winter change-up from the familiar ‘steak and sashimi’.

Some special dishes and cocktails on the 2024 winter menu mark 75 years of Qantas flights to Hong Kong (beginning in June 1949, when a Douglas DC-4 Skymaster propeller aircraft journeyed from Darwin, with a refuelling stop at the Malaysian island of Labuan).

Qantas began flying between Darwin and Hong Kong in 1949.
Qantas began flying between Darwin and Hong Kong in 1949.

Winter 2024 also marks the arrival of new premium spirits in lounges and onboard flights.

In the Sydney and Melbourne first class lounges this will include a rotating selection of premium independent Australian gins – watch for brands like Australian Distilling Co, Applewood, Beachtree, Brookie’s and of course Four Pillars – plus whiskies from Johnnie Walker Green Label, Lark Classic Cask and Singleton 15-Year-Old, and Hine Rare Cognac.

The Quokka Gin Sour is a must-try.
The Quokka Gin Sour is a must-try.

Some of these find their way into winter 2024 cocktails: our recommendation is the Quokka Gin Sour, made from Beachtree Quokka Gin and Cointreau, dressed with a sprinkle of mountain pepper which gradually turns from black to orange.

There’s also the Paris Spritz – vodka, Chartreuse, Cointreau and tonic – to celebrate the launch of Qantas flights to Paris from mid-July 2024, and the Sydney debut of the Qantas Hong Kong Lounge’s popular Dragon cocktail of Aperol, Limoncello and passionfruit.

One change which will find less favour with Qantas First Loungers is the shift to a single Champagne instead of a choice between several bottles of bubbles.

The new pour is Lallier Reflexion R.019, an evenly-balanced Pinot noir / Chardonnay grape mix which the French maison describes as “fresh citrus fruits (lemon and tangerine) supported by notes of white fruits (vine peach, green apple)” with a touch of brioche and light spice.

“Frank intensity in the attack, delicate fruitiness, and silky texture,” Lallier goes on: “the finish is long and deep with a beautiful aromatic persistence.”

We also recommend lovers of red wine ask about the decanted red of the day – this has been known to pack some superb high-end drops.

And as we’ve previously noted, the Qantas First Lounges favours its own cocktail list over whatever else a traveller may want – and while the bartenders can pull together other light aperitif-style cocktails on order, they won’t make stronger classics like martinis.

“We want cocktails that are something special, not your standard cocktails,” explains Lexie Bucholtz, from the Neil Perry team, “and something that's refreshing, very easy to drink and lower in alcohol,” saying Qantas’ preference is towards “a lighter aperitif-style offering.”

“If someone asks for something that's not on the cocktail menu but within that lighter aperitif-style, we’re able to serve that… but when it comes to things like martinis and double-shots, that’s not our style.”

At the end of this article you’ll find links to PDF copies of the Qantas First Lounge Winter 2024 menus to download and peruse ahead of your next trip. You’re welcome.

Breakfast: served from 5am to 11am

As is the norm, the Qantas First Lounge’s autumn breakfast menu is more about seasonal tweaks to a handful of dishes.

A case in point are the ever-popular buttermilk pancakes, which are now served with pears, hazelnuts plus ‘Qantas honey’, which comes from beehives at the airline’s Mascot headquarters.

“Pears are in season, classically in late autumn and into winter, so that’s why they’re on our menus at the moment,” notes Chef Alex Woolley, from Neil Perry’ Rockpool Consulting group, who heads up the creation of each seasonal menu.

There’s also a nod to those 75 years of flying to Hong Kong in the shape of a warming bowl of chicken, corn and sesame congee, served with a soft egg and chilli tamari sauce.

But we’ll be the first to admit it’s always hard to go past the perennials of corn fritters, eggs Benedict, an omelette or the simple delight of a toasted sandwich.

All day dining: served from 11am onwards

The main ‘all day dining’ menu is where the biggest changes swing from one season to the next, and winter sees plenty of those.

Rest assured that signatures such as the salt and pepper squid, club sandwich, cheeseburger and that oh-so-Instagrammable ‘pavlova in a glass’ remain on deck – although in the later, autumn’s strawberries, plums and passionfruit make way for rhubarb and orange.

The gua bao with braised pork, chilli paste, sesame and pickles is also carried across from autumn into winter, perhaps another nod to those 75 years of Hong Kong flying.

That said, you’ll find plenty of new choices to make from the Qantas First Lounge winter 2024 all day dining menu.

Pork and chive dumplings with black vinegar and sesame chilli oil: this is one of the special Hong Kong-inspired dishes, and I’d highly recommend these as starters. They’re delicate and full of flavour, and the sesame chilli oil puts just a little bit of tingle on your tongue.

Cauliflower soup with parsley oil: the light flavours are an ideal way to warm up on a crisp winter day, but being a somewhat generous large serving you risk losing limited tummy-space for other delights (that said, you could always ask for a smaller bowl to be dished up).

Shaved fennel salad with Williams pear, pecans and parmigiano reggiano: consider this a modest side dish or starter, and maybe ask them to go light on the parmigiano reggiano, which I found to be excessive and meant each forkfull was overwhelmed by those slices of dry Italian cheesiness.

Duck ragu with soft polenta and green beans agro dolce: being a soft touch for both duck and ragu, I’m going to rate this as a must-try recommendation from the Qantas First Lounge winter 2024 menu.

Pleasingly not as heavy as you’d expect a ragu to be, it also leaves more room for more Qantas First Lounge dining delights.

Grilled sumac lamb with chickpeas, mint, parsley and garlic sauce: lamb is of course another classic hearty winter warmer, and this slab almost falls apart on the fork.

Hong Kong-style beef brisket noodle soup with egg noodles: “This is one of my favourites,” shares Chef Woolley, “a really clean soup noodle dish with long-cooked beef brisket.”

Plant-based dining: roasted sweet potato with spinach, olive salsa, preserved lemon and cashew nut feta come together in another smaller-sized serving.

Hunan-style snapper with pickled and salted chillies: “This is one of Neil Perry’s classics, a very clean dish with a great mix of chilli flavours,” says Chef Woolley.

“It’s got green pickled chillies, which are like sweet, sour, and hot – and then red salted chilli, which is just salty and hot. But eaten together it becomes this great. hot, balanced dish.” Just be cautious: if you’re not into chilli, it could be a tad too intense.

Of course you’ll be leaving little space for dessert, with highlights of the autumn menu including:

Roasted pear with gingerbread, pecans and yoghurt sorbet: Woolley describes this as his favourite dessert on the winter 2024 menu, and it also gets my vote.

Warm chocolate brioche custard pudding with vanilla pouring cream: okay, so this came the very closest of close-seconds to the gingerbread.

You can download the Qantas First Lounge Winter 2024 menus using the links below:

PS Don’t forget that you can also visit the Qantas First Lounges on the domestic leg of the Melbourne-Perth-London flight (at least until mid-July 2024), along with the upcoming Sydney-Perth-Paris flights starting mid-July 2024 and seasonal Sydney-Perth-Rome flights between June and October 2024.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

08 Jul 2014

Total posts 59

At the risk of indulging in pedantry, I think that photo is of a Lockheed Super Constellation rather than a DC4? The Connie's triple vertical stabiliser and elegant lines are quite distinctive. 
And yes, the food in the QF First lounge looks good too . . . 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 Nov 2018

Total posts 1

 I would love to see an exit poll of the food offerings that Qantas still rolls out year after year with very few changes with, reportedly, old favourite chestnuts like  "the salt and pepper squid" still on the menu.  Compared to the first class lounge offerings of JAL, Emirates, Qatar etc that I've experienced over the last few years the Qantas menus fall very short.

Time for a change Vanessa.  It would be more appreciated than the new luggage tag offer for customers who are paying a significant premium to stay with Australia's main carrier.

Joe
Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 673

Onboard 'F' catering is totally unacceptable. Lounge offerings are decent however. QF really needs to roll out a good soft product before the A350's or they just won't be worth the exorbitant prices I'm sure they will be charging for the non-stop's. I've always enjoyed the SYD and MEL F lounge catering.

Jetstar Airways - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Aug 2018

Total posts 110

Enjoyed dinner in the Melbourne lounge some weeks ago and it was excellent. Regrettably in flight dinners continue to be very disappointing, especially on 11.35 pm departures from Singapore. Having had dinner in the lounge, my wife ignored the supper offerings and went to sleep. I tasted the rendang beef, but the accompanying mound of rice and prickly greens went uneaten. What was on offer for breakfast was either muesley and a brioche with egg OR nothing. She requested if some cheese and biscuits from the previous night might be available as an alternative, but that proved to be negative, so this business class, platinum traveller went hungry. Little wonder that our prior stage on Emirates was a  highlight in terms of food, comfort and service leaving our Australian company as a poor second rung. Me being grumpy is not the word for it. 

17 Nov 2023

Total posts 17

Visiting for 6 hours (intentionally made my stopover that long so I can sample everything on this menu) in September.

However, why, oh why is there no beef dish??   Apart from lamb, it's the rolls-royce of meats ...

iM
iM

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

27 Jul 2016

Total posts 56

On the cocktail front, Qantas is giving its high-value customers cocktails it wants, not what the customer wants. And now a single champagne from an unknown brand instead of its previous three-choice offering from established champagne houses. Seriously Qantas, and you want to retain our loyalty? 

QFF

12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1529

I am flying off Sydney in First late August. Very unfortunately it is early flight and I will not be able to enjoy day menu neither my wife will enjoy the spa. And while menu differences may be explained I cannot get why spa not open in the morning.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 Mar 2015

Total posts 10

How is a martini too much to ask?

Qatar lounge any day over utter qf nonsense.  

Time to move Mr Perry. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Jan 2016

Total posts 6

No problems with the menu but the bubbles selection or lack of it sends the wrong message. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 May 2015

Total posts 77

Is it too much to ask to add some good quality pastries (supplied by a reputable bakehouse) onto the breakfast menu? I know they often have a selection of pastries in the self serve buffet but these are small and are poor quality (the sort you would buy from the bakery section of a Woolworths or Coles). I would have thought this would be a no-brainer (easy to plate, quick to serve and relatively inexpensive).

Also, for the non-drinkers out there can they do better than Heineken zero? In my opinion this is the worst major brand of non-alcoholic beer on the market. I'd also love to see some coconut drinks on the menu (they serve coconut water in Singapore so why not in Melb/Syd?).


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