Review: British Airways A380 First Class Tasting Menu

Introduction
From Airbus To Megabus: A Trip Of Contrasts
Review: Six Senses Zighy Bay Villa
Review: Six Senses Zighy Bay Activities & Dining
Review: Al Maha Bedouin Suite
Review: Al Maha Desert Resort Dubai Dining
Review: Al Maha Desert Resort Dubai Activities
Review: Dubai International First Class Lounge DXB
Review: Qatar Airways First Class A320 Dubai To Doha
Review: Qatar Airways First Class A380 Doha To London
Review: British Airways First Class A380 London To Los Angeles
Review: British Airways A380 First Class Tasting Menu
Review: Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles Airport LAX
Review: American Flagship Lounge Los Angeles LAX
Review: American First Class A321 Los Angeles To New York
Review: Hilton Austin Airport


While I’ve had the privilege to fly British Airways First class on several occasions, this was my first trip on their A380. I’m not nearly the avgeek Ben or Andrew are, but I was still pretty excited.

I don’t have much to add to Ben’s assessment of the seat and cabin (other than to say that I think the 777 is my favorite of the three BA first class configurations I’ve flown), but I did want to share my experience with the A380 First Class Tasting Menu.

The tasting menu is exclusive to the A380, and was designed for British Airways by the Langham hotel in London. The concept is geared towards making high-altitude food more interesting and palatable, and the people at BA are quite proud of the science involved in the menu.

I felt like we’d been eating and drinking all day, so wasn’t particularly hungry. Selecting the tasting menu might seem like an odd choice in that situation, but a longer service with smaller portions and careful wine pairings sounded more interesting to me.

It was an excellent decision.

To start, the flight attendants were just pickled when I ordered the tasting menu.

Oh, wonderful! You’ll love it! May I bring the wine pairings as well? They truly make the meal.

How can it not be a great experience when someone is so excited to share it with you?

I was informed that the tasting menu took a bit longer to prepare (“But it’s well worth it!”), so enjoyed the amuse bouche with a glass of Grand Siècle in the meantime.

British-Airways-Tasting-Menu-1

One

Galantine of corn-fed chicken with beetroot, girolles, gingerbread, and golden raisin purée
Wine pairing: Cline Cellars Marsanne/Roussanne 2013, Sonoma Coast, California

I’ll be honest, I’m not a food critic, and I don’t know what half the words are in that description. But the first course was carefully plated, and quite tasty.

British-Airways-Tasting-Menu-2

The wine set the flavors of the dish off surprisingly well (I haven’t ever had much success with airplane wine), so we were off to a great start.

Two

Lobster consommé with garlic pearls
No wine pairing

The challenge with reviewing a soup course is that there truly isn’t a way to make it visually interesting.

British-Airways-Tasting-Menu-3

The broth itself was certainly interesting though, with a complexity of flavor I wouldn’t have expected. The richness of the lobster gave a depth to the dish, and the small portion was perfect — the consommé was intense enough that I wouldn’t have wanted an entire bowl.

Three

Roasted lemon infused halibut with crab tortellini and burnt butter emulsion
Wine pairing: Chablis Grand Cru Bougros 2010, William Fèvre, Burgundy, France

I generally feel the fastest way to ruin fish is to cover it with a cream sauce, but this one was surprisingly light.

British-Airways-Tasting-Menu-4

I also enjoyed having just a few bites of pasta to accompany the fish — again, the portion was perfect. This was my least favorite of the courses though (most likely due to personal preference regarding fish and cream).

Four

Fillet of British lamb in a filo roll with pulled lamb stuffed potato fondant, piquillo pepper, courgette and tomato jus
Wine pairing: Château Balestard la Tonnelle 2008, Saint-Émilion Grand Cru Classé, Bordeaux, France

I wouldn’t typically expect a dish this complicated to be turned out well in a British Airways galley, so didn’t have high expectations for this dish.

British-Airways-Tasting-Menu-5

To my surprise, the lamb was also well-prepared, and the filo was neither too flaky nor too chewy. Impressive.

Five

Chocolate and hazelnut cylinder
Wine pairing: Muskat Ottonel Schilfwein 2012, Weingut Willi Opitz, Burgenland, Austria

I don’t know how you could go wrong with hazelnut and dark chocolate anyway, and this was as excellent as you’d expect.

British-Airways-Tasting-Menu-6

The dessert itself wasn’t too sweet, and the bitterness of the chocolate and earthiness of the hazelnuts really came through. I don’t typically prefer dessert wines, but the juxtaposition of the strong chocolate and sweet wine was perfect.

Tea

Despite taking my time with the courses — and I’m not a particularly fast eater to begin with, so the rest of the cabin had long-since finished their meal service by the time I got to dessert — this was still quite a bit of food.

British-Airways-Tasting-Menu-7

A pot of peppermint tea was the perfect way to finish the meal. Chocolates were offered, but seemed excessive at that point.

Bottom line

I love anything airlines do to set their product or service apart, so I was enchanted with the idea of the A380 tasting menu to begin with. The concept isn’t just a gimmick, and I thoroughly enjoyed the meal.

That being said, our crew on this segment was fantastic, took a tremendous amount of pride in the service in general, and were particularly excited about the tasting menu. I don’t know that the items would have been prepared with such care by the lousy crew I had later that month on the BA 777, for example.

But as it was, the execution was delightful, and made for a nice change of pace from the typical transatlantic offerings.

Have you tried the British Airways A380 tasting menu? What did you think?

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Comments

  1. @Kenny, this is what it says in the post: “the tasting menu is exclusive to the A380”

    @Tiffany, we did enjoy our tasting menu on our leg between IAD to LHR last September. But your dessert looks a lot better than ours. Our dessert was a sad looking chocolate mousse cake and the portion was pretty small.

  2. Tiffany, you’re awesome! I was just thinking earlier while reading Lucky’s review that I wish there had been more info on the tasting menu option.

    Given the equipment on hand in the galley, it looks like they did a great job. I really like the detail that went into plating. Agree with Luis that it looks restaurant quality.

    This and JW Blue make BA A380 F a contender in my book.

  3. I’m planning a trip on BA A380 soon so I’m glad you enjoyed the tasting menu! I’ll be looking forward to this perk!

  4. Tried this back in 2014 on the LHR/LAX A380 service. The meal was the best part of the flight. I sat on the ottoman opposite my friend and we ate face to face. It was a fantastic experience.

  5. Great review Tiffany – I was very impressed with the quality of the offering and attention to detail when I had the tasting menu on the A380 F LHR to IAD last year; really exceeded my expectations for catering on BA (which I normally find fine, but not exciting).

    Like you I needed a peppermint tea at the end, the portions are not large but they are very rich. I did not decline the chocolates though!

  6. I tried the tasting menu on LHR > MIA back in November and thought it was disgusting. I’ve had some good meals on BA F before, yet the last 4 flights I took were bordering between revolting and horrible. Even the non-tasting menu was very poor (especially the beef, which is normally good on BA) when we flew to HND. I had some scallops, which must have won some award for the smallest scallops ever seen. Then I took a bite and was grateful they were so small, as it made it easier to spit them out. I think my next trip to MIA I’ll fly VS Upper Class instead.

  7. @TomC that’s interesting – I flew LHR JFK last month in Club World and found the catering much improved. The supplier was Do&Co which is very good anyway; not sure if that was just on this route or is a wider change (but I will find out when I head to SIN next week!)

  8. Agree with others here about the food and presentation. Pretty amazing what a cabin crew can do on an airplane given the limitations in place. Kudos to BA!!

  9. @ GMan — Impressive that you sat together! My BA crews have always looked chagrined at the idea, but I guess it’s more workable with the smaller plates on the tasting menu.

  10. @ Tom C — Ouch, that’s no good. This flight was in early October, and was great, but catering on my AUS-LHR flight in late October was horrific. My ClubWorld catering last week was really impressive, so who knows what’s going on.

  11. @Tiffany Strange how it can be so inconsistent, isn’t it? I had fond memories previously of their food in F, but never in J. On their short-haul I tend to not even ask for any food. However, whilst I will agree with Lucky’s view on BA J being an embarrassment and I will not fly it anymore after too many bad experiences and it often costing the same as the much superior VS UC, I actually quite like their F hard product – I’m certainly looking forward to trying their 787-9. I’ve also never had any service issues on long-haul, but the food, lounge, IFE etc are not great. My next BA “long-haul” in F (it’s not really, but they do offer a F cabin on a ~4 hour journey) is to DME in November and if that’s no good, then I’ll go back to VS permanently.

  12. Well, I got to try the tasting menu on an LHR-HKG flight last year, and I have to say that I was equally impressed – probably the best food I’ve ever had on a plane, and I wouldn’t have expected that BA, of all airlines, would deliver it. The “standard fare” was, suprisingly, quite good, too, but the tasting menu really beat everything else. Really looking forward to my LHR-SIN flight in May, which will also be on the A380 – another opportunity to try a tasting menu. I can really recommend to try it to anyone who has the chance to do so, and I probably would choose it any time over the other menu offerings.

  13. I typically take every bit of sleep I can get when flying back to Europe from the US, but I have to say that on the A380 service from MIA to LHR I drop an hour of sleep to go for the tasting menu. Had this on several occasions and never got disappointed. The 5 glasses of wine might help to leave you in a relaxed and overly satisfied state, but the food of the tasting menu is excellent even by itself. One of the few dinners that is served on board and exceeds the quality you usually only get on the ground in the lounge.

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