My review of Etihad’s A380 First Class Apartment, Part 2

This is Part 2 of my review of Etihad’s A380 First Class Apartment.

Yesterday I began my report on my recent trip to Abu Dhabi to review the First Class Apartment on Etihad’s A380 fleet.  Click that link to see Part 1 which focussed on the seat and cabin.

Today I want to take a look at the food.

Back in February I flew Etihad’s 777 in First Class.  Whilst the seat is totally different, the food was very similar and my conclusions are the same – it is noticeably above what you would get from British Airways in First Class, but remains a notch below what you would get from, say, Lufthansa or Swiss.

(There may be a cultural aspect at work here, of course, as those airlines serve a geographically narrow customer base.  A Lufthansa flight to the US will be primarily full of US or German citizens which makes it easier to cater.  An Etihad flight to or from the UK will have a far broader spread of nationalities.)

Etihad A380 First Class Apartment food

The drink

The champagne brands had changed from my trip in February.  The Gosset had been swapped for 2005 Bollinger, which is a similar £70-£75 at retail.  The £35 Jacquart rose had been swapped for a £35 Duval Leroy rose.

The wine selection continued to be ‘cheap’.  The Nautilus Sauvignon Blanc I had turns out be just £9.99 a bottle at Majestic Wine at the moment!  A typical red, the Line 39 Pinot Noir (2013) is even cheaper!  The presence of Heineken on the beer list does not fill you with confidence either although they did at least splash out for Johnnie Walker Blue Label whisky.

The food

Etihad has dedicated in-flight chefs for First Class.  The idea is that, if the main courses on the menu do not appeal (which is likely) he will ‘knock something up’ from a list of ingredients carried on board.

Following an amuse bouche of something I didn’t catch the name of …..

Etihad A380 First Class Apartment food

…. the appetisers consisted of:

chickpea soup with arabic spiced raratouille

artichoke ginger soup with creme fraiche

marinated prawns, quinoa and wakame salad and red pepper sauce (which I had, see photo, and which worked well as the pepper offset the tastebud-dampening impact of flight)

mezze

Etihad A380 First Class Apartment food

Next came that old favourite, the ‘palette cleansing sorbet’:

Etihad A380 First Class Apartment food

The three mains did not appeal:

lamb, chicken or fish biryani

roasted lamb loin with oven roasted baby vegetables, purple Majesty potatoes and lamb jus

Mediterranean vegetable tartlet with tomato concasse, basked cherry tomato, rocket leaves and goat cheese

As I did in February, I sat down with the chef (Bead in this case) and we looked at his list.  He had beef tenderloin, rib-eye steak, lamb shank, chicken supreme, fish, beans, mixed vegetables, mashed potato, chateau potatoes, french fries, steamed rice and a variety of sauces to work with.

We ended up with the fish on a bed of mash (see below) which, whilst admittedly not ambitious, was actually just what I wanted.  Remember that I had a two-course table-served meal in the Etihad lounge just two hours earlier!

Etihad A380 First Class Apartment food

For dessert, the choices were:

ice cream

aumoniere (crepe filled with blueberries and marzipan served warm with vanilla sauce)

bitter chocolate and orange ball

dessert taster (three mini desserts – berry and cinnamon frangipane, apricot cheesecake with passion fruit meringue, chocolate mousse – which is what I took, see below.  Reading the list again, I fancy the crepe to be honest!)

Etihad A380 First Class Apartment food

What you can see from the photos here is the huge investment that Etihad has made in presentation, crockery etc.  This is not expensive in the broad scheme of things but really makes an impact.

Overall, the food and drink hit the spot, although there is clearly some room for improvement.  If you want caviar and the trimmings then you are on the wrong airline, unfortunately, although I accept that these sort of items carry less appeal for passengers who fly in First on a very regular basis.  I’d also like to see some more investment in the wine list – there is no real excuse for that!

Details of how I used miles for my ticket and how you could do the same are in Part 1 of this Etihad A380 First Class review which you can read here.

Etihad’s official A380 First Class Apartment website is here.

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Comments

  1. I’m flying in March. Can’t wait!!

  2. My complaints would be that the breakfast menu is quite limited and that out of 5 F Flights in 4 months, they have ran out of specific dishes 3 times – one of those times was immediately on take off as supposedly everyone had ordered the biriani.

  3. Re the dinnerware – did you happen to notice the brand?

    I’m simply curious because it looks like the Nikko Silk set of china that I have been planning to purchase…not a very common brand but a beautiful set of dinnerware nontheless…

  4. Lesley Palmer says:

    The important point about the wine is not what it cost but what did it taste like?

    • I don’t consider myself a wine writer so I don’t like to go into that. I do assume, however, that there is some correlation between quality and price (albeit that there have been many scientific studies done on wine which prove otherwise!).

  5. ‘Fish’ is a bit general :) – what fish was it?#

    I think I’d have gone for a rare rib-eye steak with some Colman’s mustard.

    • I forgot …… (hey, if you want proper reviews go to a proper reviews website :-) )

      I think it was that white fish you’ve never heard of which is pretty much the default option everywhere in the Middle East.

      • If I remember correctly, it was Baramundi on my recent flight (I’d never heard of it either, but it tasted quite nice).

        • No battered cod or haddock then?

          When I was (much) younger and part of a works outing, I ordered a halibut steak in this fancy hotel. When the waiter deposited a large fish in front of me a while later, I politely corrected him and informed him I’d ordered a steak 😉

          Worst meal of my life!

        • Sounds familiar!

  6. As great as the product looks, the choice of wines is a little disappointing. Don’t Qatar offer Krug in their business class lounge?

    • Hidden away, but yes, on request.

      Here is the odd bit – Qatar has Krug in the business class and first class onboard bar but it is NOT on the first class menu. If you want one, you have to walk to the bar (which means walking all the way through business class) to get it – or ask if the crew would go for you.

      I will cover this when I review my return flight.

      • I look forward to your review. Would be interesting if you compared Etihad first with the other ME airlines.

        I believe consistency among the fleet had to be taken into consideration when comparing. As great as the A380 is across all three airlines it would appear there is always a pretty good chance of getting an equipment swap on Etihad or Qatar.

      • Worth the walk for Krug IMHO

  7. The A380 first class apartment sounds tempting, for a 2 week holiday in Sri Lanka next Xmas.

    I have 90,0000 Etihad points from their Amex card and a couple of flights, so that covers LHR-AUH one way (plus £289 cash).

    Getting a couple of AAdvantage Amex cards for the welcome bonus generates 34500 AA Miles.
    I can then buy 85,000 AA MIles for about £1200 and get AUH-LHR plus a return ticket for the wife (presumably a couple of hundred taxes to pay).
    Does anyone know if the AAdvantage Amex card still gets surcharged 3% when buying the points?

    Etihad are actually the cheapest for a return flight AUH-CMB at £214 so all told we can get our holiday for 2 for £2225 cash and my 90,000 Etihad guest points.

    Is this a good use of the Etihad points? Any better options that I’ve missed?

  8. Click on yesterday’s Rob and that says part 2 as well!

    My food was amazing on the way out and lousy and the return. Veggies were somewhat sloppy on the way back and I asked to be served a couple hours into the flight and he didn’t bother until I asked almost 4hrs in! Anyway… Was still a fab experience.

  9. Rob, isn’t this a bit of an odd option if you are travelling as a couple or even with friends? I know you were solo – but aren’t you a bit cut off from companions? I’m not taken with the solitary aspect of suites in general but this looks well…..like a few hours in the cooler!

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  11. Hi Rob, I’m curious what beers you’d expect if Heineken isn’t great? I’m a big craft beer fan but even I accept that travelling means lowest common denominator, and Heineken as a slightly better than Fosters lager should satisfy most.

    • I would have expected something more niche. Heineken is an odd product because it is promoted differently in differently countries – in some places it is positioned fairly upmarket, in other it is effectively Carling Black Label.

  12. On my EY economy class flight from EDI to BKK back in June I was very unimpressed with the quantity of food offered while the quality was mixed. I was of the impression the food for EDI-AUH arrived with incoming flight rather than being prepared locally, it was very poor but a little better AUH-BKK. It was my first economy longhaul in a decade or so, so I have no idea what airlines are serving up these days. Worst food I tasted since USAiways started flight to the UK. On way back in business I skipped the meals to sleep. On most of my J and F flights the food has been edible if uninspiring but some exceptions. Top marks for breakfast on LH F, apart from them I find breakfast on planes universally awful. Other highlights have been Rudolphs friends on Finnair, curries on Sri Lankan, curries on Thai to/from KTM. Contrary to most I havd been unimpressed with food on Swiss, maybe I was jusg unlucky but meat was poor quality and badly prepared, desserts were pathetic. Likewise, I was uimpressed with Austrian despite their making a big deal about their food. SQ book the cook looks more impressivd on paper than in practice. BA just saved from the wooden spoon by all our North American friends.

  13. Looks like the chef had a lot of chives in stock!

    He/she should know better than to garnish a plate with something that you won’t can’t eat.

    In F those wines sound horrific.

  14. Can these be booked using AirBerlin’s TopBonus points / miles ?

    Raffles, any chance you could do a few articles on the best ways to use TopBonus points ?

  15. I wish someone in this industry would say “It was/wasn’t a nice wine” for once rather than just list the prices… A wine can certainly be good/bad value for money but the mere price doesn’t really give a whole lot of useful information

    • Wine is a very personal thing though …. whilst price is not necessarily a marker of quality, I do genuinely believe it is a better marker for you than me telling you whether I liked something.