Review: Etihad Airways Business Class A330 Dusseldorf To Abu Dhabi

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Introduction
US Airways Club Tampa
American Airlines Premium Lounge Miami Airport
Airberlin Business Class A330 Miami To Dusseldorf
Airberlin Lounge Dusseldorf Airport
Etihad Airways Business Class A330 Dusseldorf To Abu Dhabi
Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi
St. Regis Abu Dhabi
Etihad Airways First Class Lounge Abu Dhabi Airport
Abu Dhabi Airport United States Immigration Pre-Clearance
Etihad Airways First Class A340-500 Abu Dhabi to Los Angeles


Etihad Airways 24
Dusseldorf (DUS) – Abu Dhabi (AUH)
Monday, May 26
Depart: 11:50AM
Arrive: 8:20PM
Duration: 6hr30min
Aircraft: Airbus A330-300
Seat: 6K (Pearl Business Class)

Boarding was done through door 2L, where I was greeted by the cabin manager and one of the business class cabin crew.

This particular A330-300 was in a three cabin configuration, with eight first class seats and 32 business class seats spread across two cabins.

Here’s a SeatGuru seatmap of the first and business class cabins:

Etihad-A330-Seatmap

I chose seat 6K, which is the mini-cabin, to the left of the main cabin door entrance.

Etihad’s business class features a staggered configuration, with Solstys style seats.

The mini cabin consists of two rows. Each row has four seats, and in the second row there were two “true” window seats, along with two “separated” center aisle seats.

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Etihad business class seat A330

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Etihad business class seat A330

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Etihad business class cabin A330

Meanwhile in the first row of business class were two “honeymoon” seats, though I have to say they did a better job with those than airberlin, since there was actually a divider between the two seats. That way it wouldn’t be totally awkward if you happened to be sitting next to a stranger.

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Etihad business class cabin A330

I thought the cabin was just spectacularly gorgeous. It was in perfect condition, and I loved the tones and finishes. I quickly settled into my “cocoon,” 6K, which was both private and spacious, thanks to the extra “leg” room along the side of the fuselage.

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Etihad business class seat A330

To the left of the seat were the entertainment and seat controls, which were intuitive.

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Etihad business class seat and entertainment controls A330

Immediately below the seat controls was a small storage compartment with the headphones and headphone jack.

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Etihad business class headphone storage A330

The tray table was “clipped” to the seat in front of me. My one complaint with these seats is that it’s really, really easy to bump your knee against the structure that holds up the tray table. Even though I was aware of it, I must have bumped my knee against it a handful of times on this sector alone.

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Etihad business class tray table A330

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Etihad business class tray table A330

Underneath the ottoman was a bit of storage space, enough for a pair of shoes.

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Etihad business class storage A330

Waiting on the ottoman was the menu for the flight, as well as a packaged blanket.

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Etihad business class blanket

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Etihad business class blanket

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Etihad business class blanket signage

As soon as I settled in, the friendly flight attendant that would be taking care of me introduced himself and welcomed me aboard. He was Czech and in his mid-20s, and both professional and charming. He definitely seemed like one of the better crew aboard.

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Get it? Get it? Har har!

He quickly offered me a pre-departure beverage, and I selected a glass of bubbly. On offer was Lanson Black Label, which is a perfectly nice business class champagne. I was also offered a hot towel.

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Etihad business class pre-departure champagne and hot towel

I was also offered an amenity kit, which was simple, though perfectly nice for business class on a medium-haul flight.

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Etihad business class amenity kit

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Etihad business class amenity kit contents

Within about 15 minutes of boarding, meal orders were taken. The flight wasn’t especially full — there wasn’t anyone in first class, business class was maybe half full, and economy was maybe 75% full.

Etihad has an incredibly flexible “dine on demand” menu, so I decided to order the arabic mezze as my starter, and the sea bass as my main course. I was immediately informed that there wasn’t any sea bass left, so I ordered the chicken instead. Then five minutes later the flight attendant returned and informed me they were out of arabic mezze, so asked me to pick a different appetizer. While it’s not the flight attendant’s fault, I find it kind of ridiculous not to get my choice of appetizer or main course in a half full business class cabin when ordering before takeoff.

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Etihad business class menu

Before pushback Captain Eric (who I believe was French) came on the PA and introduced himself and First Officer Mark, and advised us of our flight time of 6hr20min, which he anticipated would put us into Abu Dhabi on schedule. I loved the fact that he started his announcement in German — “Liebe Fluggäste, sehr geehrte Damen und Herren, herzlich Willkommen an Bord… and that’s all the German I know.”

Anyway, at around 11:35AM we began our pushback, a full 15 minutes ahead of schedule.

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Pushback Dusseldorf Airport

As we pushed back the safety video began to play, which as usual began with a travel prayer:

There was some fun traffic on our taxi to our departure runway. You had your typical airberlin traffic, and then a Tunisair 737, a TUI 737 in a Haribo livery, etc.

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Taxiing Dusseldorf Airport

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Taxiing Dusseldorf Airport

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Taxiing Dusseldorf Airport

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Taxiing Dusseldorf Airport

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Taxiing Dusseldorf Airport

By 11:50AM we were airborne after a short takeoff roll.

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Taking off Dusseldorf Airport

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Taking off Dusseldorf Airport

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Taking off Dusseldorf Airport

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Shortly after takeoff from Dusseldorf Airport

Our climb out was smooth, and I was glued to the window for the first 10 or so minutes of the flight.

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Shortly after takeoff from Dusseldorf Airport

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Shortly after takeoff from Dusseldorf Airport

I then started playing around with the E-BOX entertainment system, which has a bunch of on demand movies, TV shows, etc.

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Etihad E-BOX entertainment system

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Etihad E-BOX entertainment system

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Etihad E-BOX entertainment system

I don’t know why, but I especially enjoy watching the airshow on flights to the Middle East, so kept that on for the entirety of the flight.

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Airshow

During our climb out I also connected to Etihad’s wifi service, which is offered by T-Mobile. I purchased a flight pass, which costs $21.95 including tax. I found that to be really reasonable for unlimited data. It’s also worth noting that it’s not actually a flight pass but a 24 hour pass, so if you have a connection you can actually use the same “session” for both flights.

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Etihad wifi pricing

During our climb out the cabin manager came around the cabin to welcome passengers aboard. She was Australian and friendly, and I got a kick out of/really loved the way she pronounced Abu Dhabi (both when talking to me and over the PA) — Abyu Dabee.

Once we leveled off the seatbelt sign was turned off and cabin crew sprung into action, starting with closing the curtains between (the empty) first class and business class.

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Etihad A330 business class cabin

Shortly thereafter hot towels were once again distributed, at which point the meal service began. As I mentioned above, Etihad has a flexible dining concept, so you can eat what you want when you want (at least theoretically, because as I mentioned they were out of both of my preferred options). So they have both an “a la carte” menu and a “kitchen anytime” menu, and you can mix and match those menus as you please.

The a la carte menu read as follows:

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The kitchen anytime menu read as follows:

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The soft drink/coffee menu read as follows:

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The tea menu read as follows:

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And the wine/liquor list read as follows:

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After takeoff I was served another glass of champers, which was accompanied by a ramekin of mixed nuts.

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Etihad business class champagne and mixed nuts to start

Since the mezze wasn’t available, I had the salmon terrine for the starter instead. I have to say, it was fantastic, both in terms of taste and presentation.

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Etihad business class appetizer — salmon terrine

Then for the main course I had the baked chicken breast, which was equally fantastic.

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Etihad business class main course — baked chicken breast with sumac

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Etihad business class main course — baked chicken breast with sumac

And lastly, for dessert, I had the banana and toffee gateau. It was quite possibly the most delicious thing I’ve ever had the privilege of putting in my mouth. Like, I can’t even begin to describe how delicious it was. Man, writing trip reports while hungry is hard work, I tell ya!

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Etihad business class dessert — banana and toffee gateau with caramel tuille

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Etihad business class dessert — banana and toffee gateau with caramel tuille

I also had a cappuccino to accompany it. Etihad makes a mean cappuccino!

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Etihad business class cappuccino

The meal was fantastic, with top notch quality and plating — actually on par with many first class meals I’ve had.

Service throughout the meal was at a leisurely pace, and the flight attendant working “my” aisle was quite good. The service was complete about two hours after takeoff.

The rest of the crew seemed a bit scattered. The cabin wasn’t anywhere close to full, but I swear at least once every couple of minutes either the cabin manager, food and beverage manager, or chef walked between business and first class, despite the first class cabin being totally empty. My guess is that they were setting up a crew buffet in first class. 😉

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Airshow

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Airshow

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View at cruise level

Given that I had flown in from Miami that morning and hadn’t slept on the airberlin flight, I decided to take a quick nap on this sector. I slept really well and got about two hours of sleep, which was just the nap I needed to tie me over till my “proper” bed time in Abu Dhabi.

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Airshow

Shortly after waking up the flight attendant came by my seat to see if I wanted anything. I ordered another cappuccino, and some baklava to go with it. There was something about “baklava over Baghdad” that had a nice ring to it.

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Etihad business class cappuccino and baklava

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Etihad business class cappuccino and baklava

I wasn’t planning on eating again, but the flight attendant suggested I maybe have something from the “kitchen anytime” menu, and he said the meat pie was quite good. I figured I might as well have something so I wouldn’t be hungry when I get to the hotel in Abu Dhabi.

The meat pie wasn’t a huge portion, though was tasty and served with a side of chips.

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Etihad business class snack — beef pie

About 30 minutes prior to landing Fast Track immigration cards were distributed.

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Etihad business class Fast Track immigration cards

Shortly thereafter the captain once again came on the PA, starting with a greeting in German. He advised us we’d be touching down in Abu Dhabi shortly after 8PM, and thanked us for flying Etihad.

The sunset views were quite gorgeous at this point, so I just gazed out the window.

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Sunset view on approach into Abu Dhabi

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Etihad business class cabin A330

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Airshow

On our approach a promotional Etihad Airways video was played, entitled “Our Home, Abu Dhabi.” It’s actually a pretty cool video:

Though I loved their old video, with their signature boarding music, just as much:

And eventually we began our final approach into Abu Dhabi. I find the area surrounding Abu Dhabi looks rather unique when lit up at night. I don’t know what it is — the city doesn’t have a grid system, but it has something that’s unique.

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Approach into Abu Dhabi

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Approach into Abu Dhabi

We touched down in Abu Dhabi with one of the most gorgeous landings I’ve ever experienced. Unfortunately I’m not entirely sure at which airport we touched down, as the taxi to the gate seemingly took forever. I think we may have actually landed in Bahrain and swam/taxied over to Abu Dhabi, as it took us 20 minutes to reach our remote stand.

I totally forgot Abu Dhabi uses remote stands for so many of their flights, which is usually a pain.

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Etihad A330 at remote stand

In this case it took about 10 minutes from the time we reached the stand till the door was opened. I took the opportunity to snap a couple more pictures of the mini cabin.

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Etihad A330 business class cabin upon arrival

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Etihad A330 business class seat upon arrival

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Etihad A330 business class seat upon arrival

At around 8:40PM the door opened, and I proceeded onto the bus. On the plus side they had a bus just for business class passengers, so since there were just over a dozen of us, it wasn’t really crowded.

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Etihad A330 upon arrival

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Abu Dhabi Airport remote stand bus

We were dropped off in the glitzy terminal, where I proceeded towards immigration, which was a pleasant ~15 minute walk.

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Abu Dhabi Airport terminal

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Abu Dhabi Airport terminal

UAE immigration is freaking fascinating — there’s no other way to put it. Without getting too much into the work ethic of actual Emirati citizens, it is interesting to see them working immigration. I’ve yet to clear immigration where they either:

  • Weren’t on the phone with a friend/girlfriend
  • Weren’t on Facebook or texting people

Literally, you’ll stand in front of them and you’ll watch them text for a few seconds at a time as they enter information into the computers.

And it was even more interesting on this occasion. As I was in the priority queue, an Etihad cockpit crew showed up in the crew lane. The two captains and first officer were westerners, while the second officer was Emirati. He seemed to know everyone working the immigration desk, and at least a few of them stopped their work to go say hi to him and talk for a few minutes. Only in the UAE!

My immigration officer was actually quite friendly:

Officer: “What’s your name?”
Me: “My name is Ben.”
Officer (with a creepy smirk): “Are you sure?”
Me: “Yes sir.”
Officer: “Is this your first time in the UAE?”
Me: “Nope, I’ve been several times before.”
Officer (with a creepy smirk: “Are you sure?”

On the plus side, I was then sent on my way.

Past immigration I followed the signage to Etihad Chauffeur, which is complimentary for first and business class passengers (even for those on award tickets).

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Abu Dhabi Airport arrivals hall

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Abu Dhabi Airport terminal

Once at the counter I was handed a slip and directed to proceed outside.

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Etihad Chauffeur desk Abu Dhabi

A Lexus sedan was waiting for me, and the driver was friendly. Within about 15 minutes I arrived at the Hyatt Capital Gate.

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Etihad Chauffeur Abu Dhabi

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Etihad Chauffeur Abu Dhabi

Bottom line on Etihad business class

Etihad Airways’ business class product really impressed me. While my favorite hard product is a reverse herringbone seat, Etihad Airways’ hard product is one of the best staggered seats I’ve been in. If you can snag a “true” window seat it’s especially awesome.

The service on this flight was quite good. Not as good as on Singapore or Cathay Pacific, but still very good.

And the food — despite not getting my first choice for the appetizer or main course — was spectacular.

The entertainment, between the personal selection and wifi, was great as well.

I’m a big fan of Etihad Airways’ business class, and would fly them again in a heartbeat.

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Comments

  1. Officer (with a creepy smirk): “If your real name is Ben, why does everyone refer to you as ‘Lucky’? Is that a code name? What are you trying to hide? Your German is very good for an American citizen – what intelligence agency do you work for?”

  2. Great report!
    Just flew Etihad Business Class from Tokyo to Munich with a stop in Abu Dhabi. I definitely agree with you on their food and hard product. I also experienced really great service which is definitely on top of the American carriers.
    Have you had the chance to check out their lounge? I felt like the service couldn’t just keep up with the real in flight one and found some people there to actually either having a really bad day or just generally not liking their job?!
    Oh and about their remote stands.. happened to me twice, AUH-NRT and return as well..
    But as far as the real flight experience goes, great product!

  3. @ Chrissi531 — I’ve only used their first class lounge in Abu Dhabi, and even that isn’t all that impressive. Don’t find the service to be especially good there either.

  4. This does look excellent. I know you’ve said AA is having trouble booking Etihad right now. What about USAir? Thanks for another excellent report!

  5. @ elteetrav — US Airways doesn’t partner with Etihad Airways, so till they merge the programs you won’t be able to book Etihad with US Airways miles.

  6. FYI the second picture which you have labelled the arrivals hall is actually the departures area with checkin desks at the back! Odly the etihad car desk is also there!

  7. Lucky, does the divider separating the honeymoon seats lower? If not, that could be a pain for people traveling together (you can adjust the divider on EK).

    “Only in the UAE!”

    No, that’s standard for pretty much all the GCC airports. FYI, Emiratis do have a reputation for being the nicest Gulfies…

    The food does look good. Too bad their wasn’t a steak sandwich offered on this flight. But, pretty embarrassing for them to run out of food…and even moreso on the next flight too!

    Now you need to fly EK’s staggered business as well as QR’s business, so you can compare all 3 as well.

  8. Great review/pictures! Too bad you didn’t know the upcoming marathon flight to LA would run out of food or you could have taken something “to go”. 😉

  9. Ben, did you put up the wrong airshow picture? It has an airberlin logo on it, and while my German ain’t great, I’m quite sure it says destination: DUS?

    And the food does look amazing – are you one of those people who would go out just for dessert? 😉 Too bad they ran out of your preferred meals.

    Aren’t you wishing you booked 1st class, then you could have had another private cabin experience!

  10. The new food and beverage director for Etihad just left the Hyatt Capital Gate. Maybe he had a hand in the excellent food.

  11. Jeez Ben! The after lunch cappuccino (what?) paired with a glass of Champagne….your Sicilian friends would kill you! 😉 signed…an Italian 😉

  12. Great review (as ever!), although I bet you were gutted you hadn’t booked First to have the cabin to yourself!

    Agree it was a poor show having to have second choice on both courses but the presentation and taste seems better than F in many airlines – especially LH

  13. PS disappointing that the pie and chips was really pie and *crisps* – they should serve proper chips with them! (and I don’t mean ‘French fries’ but proper thick-cut British chip-shop chips!

  14. I have not had the opportunity to fly Etihad (always try to upgrade but they say its full even when its not) but I have flown economy on Etihad and their service in that class leads a lot to be desired. The customer service whether it be on the ground (in the various airline offices in Abu Dhabi) or in the air is not very nice nor respectful to the customer, and many of them do not know of the products or services their airline offers. In the air, the service is not good, the food is bad quality, and the IFE is limited. Out of the big 3, I would actually rank them last (Emirates is number 1). I believe that Etihad has a lot of work it needs to do to truly be a world-class airline.

  15. Lucky were you bothered by noise in 6K with it being so close to the galley? Or do the benefits of the mini-cabin outweigh this? Have a flight coming up in a few weeks from Geneva

  16. Do you happen to know if immigration at Abu Dhabi deny people to enter if they’ve been to Israel (i.e. have a stamp on the passport)?

  17. Great report – Boy, some people are picky, aren’t they – proper thick cut British chip shop chips indeed – lol.

    We are booked to fly busines BNE – AUH – LHR in a few weeks. 787 between BNE and AUH and A380 between AHU and LHR. Never been on either aircraft type, so looking forward.

    Will try to put in my own report – might even throw in some bogus photos to challenge the toughest of critics!

  18. Great review Ben!
    Have a quick question about the Kitchen anytime menu.
    Do you get to order from it in addition to have feasted from the A la Carte menu ? And, how mnay times can you order from it ?

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