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Every three months sees a seasonal shake-up at the Qantas First Lounge in Sydney and Melbourne, with Neil Perry's Rockpool restaurant team rolling out new dishes to take advantage of in-season produce.
But there are five dishes which Qantas can't take off the menu, for fear of a riot among frequent flyers and lounge loyalists.
They're seemingly permanent fixtures of the first class lounge, and they may well be among your favourites.
1. Buffalo mozzarella
The buffalo mozzarella from Victoria's Shaw River buffalo dairy is the centrepiece of this light flavoursome dish, which makes a perfect starter before tucking into heartier fare.
"We always have the Shaw River buffalo mozzarella salad," says Qantas' Rockpool consultant Terry Higgins, "but depending on the season we change it up" with different accompaniments.
Most popular are summer's heirloom tomatoes dressed with basil, balsamic vinegar and olive oil, although year-round visitors to the Qantas First Lounge are likely to see spring greens such as asparagus and sugar snap peas with lemon oil; and in winter, slow-roasted capsicum and perino tomatoes.
(In case you're wondering: buffalo mozzarella is made from the milk of water buffalo, which contains twice the milk solids of cow's milk, has about 30% more and a high level of antioxidants.)
2. Salt and pepper squid
Another perennial crowd pleaser is the finely-sliced calamari dipped in egg white, then lightly dusted in a mixture of plain flour, trisol, ground black and white pepper, lightly fried until crisp and golden, then served with a side of Thai-style green chilli dipping sauce and aioli made in the lounge's own kitchen.
3. Club sandwich
One of the 'signature sandwiches' on the all-day dining menu, the Qantas Club Sandwich combines moist sous vide chicken breast with Schulz smokehouse bacon, slow-roasted roma tomatoes, cos lettuce and aioli, served on a lightly-toasted English wholegrain loaf from Brasserie Bread.
Somewhat of an inflight cousin of this is the chicken Schnitzel and coleslaw sandwich (below), served on Qantas international business class flights and a reliable go-to for many passengers in the pointy end.
4. Minute steak and chips
"You can't go wrong with a quality grass-fed Black Angus fillet steak," Higgins reflects, "so we just change the butter with fresh horseradish or chipotle or something else."
Over the years that Australian Business Traveller has been visiting the Qantas First Lounge we've enjoyed butter blended with white miso paste and Tasmanian wasabi; Café de Paris butter with a dozen spices plus a dash of brandy and Worcestershire sauce; and truffle butter with wild mushrooms, truffle paste and pink river salt.
This ‘deconstructed’ pavlova served in a glass is easily the Qantas First Lounge's most popular dessert.
"There was an absolute riot once when we took it off!" laughs Higgins.
Lesson learned: don't mess with the pav. Just introduce seasonal fruits every few months to complement the meringue, mascarpone cream and yoghurt gelato.
That means passionfruit and strawberries in spring; tropical mango and pineapple in summer, plus lychee, lime, raspberry and pomegranate seeds through autumn and winer.
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