One of the few reasons we look forward to winter is the seasonal change in menus at the Qantas First Class lounges in Sydney and Melbourne.
Inspired by Niel Perry and designed by his team at Rockpool Consulting, the lounges offer some of the best food available in airport lounges today.
We recently tried the new Winter Tasting menu, a collection of dishes that highlight the best produce of the season, cooked fresh to order.
“Honey, bee home soon” cocktail
Qantas has partnered with supplier Hanks Jams to create their own bee hives located at their Mascot headquarters.
Although they don’t produce enough to supply the entire airline, Hanks mixes the Qantas honey with their own and supply it for inflight use.
The honey was harvested in late May from our hives amongst paperbark trees and has aromas of dried spices and paperbark flowers.
The rest of it is used in the lounges and our first drink is a delicious cocktail made with Qantas honey, Chivas Regal, Angosutra bitters, lemon juice and orange peel.
Duck toast with beetroot jam
Our meal starts off with a canape of fresh confit duck, beetroot jam and a sprig of parsley. This canape is also served on Qantas First Class flights.
Grilled eggplant with goat’s curd, buckwheat and sesame vinaigrette
An earthy and well balanced dish that is perfect for winter. A lot of different textures make up this dish – from the soft eggplant, to the creamy goat’s curd, and crispy flash fried mushrooms on top.
Sticky pork salad with shallots, beansprouts and pomelo
Roger Barstow from Rockpool Consulting tells us that the pork in this dish is cooked in a master stock for 4 hours before it is flash fried. This is a fresh and light dish bursting with Asian flavours. The pork is tossed with a palm sugar and ginger caramel, hence the description of “sticky” pork.
Ocean trout confit with pickled cucumbers and capers
Another seasonal dish that is very light. Perfectly cooked ocean trout pairs nicely with the acidity of the pickled cucumbers.
Crab and vegetable okonomiyaki
This okonomiyaki has lighter flavours than usual, allowing the flavours of the crab meat to shine through.
Prawn oil pasta with crab meat and roasted cherry tomatoes
If you’re in the mood for Italian-style comfort food, this is your go-to dish for winter!
A richly spiced Moroccan flavoured dish which is based on slowly braised vegetables, chermoula spice paste and fish which absorbs these aromas and flavours to give a sweet, sour and hot stew.
Slow cooked duck with grilled radicchio, balsamic and soft polenta
The duck is salted and cooked slowly in duck fat then crisped to order. It’s served with a creamy polenta and some grilled and marinated Treviso radicchio. The gremolata of orange zest and parsley scattered over the top provides a contrasting freshness and aroma.
Seared Moreton Bay bugs with roasted Jerusalem artichokes, grilled shallots, brown butter, thyme and lemon dressing
Our favourite dish on the menu. The perfectly cooked bugs paired well with the butter and lemon dressing.
But get them while they last – Barstow commented that they are very seasonal and will only be on the menu for 4-5 weeks.
Grilled spitchcock with rosemary roast potatoes and anchovy dressing
The lemon baste used on the spatchcock contrasts nicely with the anchovy dressing.
Braised venison with chestnuts, celeriac puree and broccoli
A typical winter stew with a twist. The venison and chestnuts soak up the rich braise.
Salt and pepper squid with green chilli dipping sauce and aioli
A classic of the First Class lounge, it's available all year round rather than on a seasonal basis – but we couldn’t resist ordering this dish, and neither will you!
Warm chocolate brioche pudding with vanilla pouring cream
A rich and warming wintry pudding, this is a next level bread and butter pudding made with brioche, chocolate custard and dark chocolate, served with vanilla scented pouring cream.
Signature pavlova with fig, raspberry and strawberry
Another classic First Class lounge dish, the pav has been updated for winter with figs and remains as satisfying as always.
Kaffir lime and vanilla baba with tangelo and soft coconut cream
The citrus tangelo fruit on top contrasts with the rich and moist cake underneath.
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