This is the 2nd part of my review of Etihad’s A380 First Class Apartment on a flight between London and Abu Dhabi.
Food and drink is a key part of the First Class experience but it is an area where Etihad falls a little short. I still think that Lufthansa and SWISS serve the best First Class food in the sky.
My welcome drink was Billecart-Salmon 2007 Vintage champagne, which is about £40 in the shops. The NV Rose was also available, which retails for around £60.
The wine list is equally unexciting. The Craggy Range sauvignon blanc, for example, is £14.99 in Waitrose. A typical red from the list, the Marques de Murrieta ‘Reserva’ rioja is around £14. Whilst price and taste are not always aligned in the wine world, I would expect something a little higher end in First Class.
As we had a 9am departure, breakfast was served first.
You can’t knock Etihad’s presentation. The crockery is lovely and really complements the food. Even a croissant, an omelette and various accompaniments looks classy in the right hands.
That said, they could only offer me a cheese omelette – no meat was available – and no pain au chocolat were loaded, only croissants.
If you didn’t want eggs (cooked however you wanted them), the breakfast options were limited to a fruit platter and cereal. As I’d just eaten in the lounge, I ordered mainly to check out the quality.
Etihad has pioneered the concept of a ‘proper’ in-flight chef. By ‘proper’, I mean a chef who can actually cook you pretty much whatever you want – from a defined list of ingredients kept onboard – as opposed to the Turkish Airlines ‘chef’ which is simply a standard crew member who is made to dress up!
It started badly, when the chef asked me to place my lunch order immediately after take off. This was before I had even had breakfast. I was even asked to confirm which wine I wanted to drink four hours later with my lunch. This felt a bit odd.
The a la carte lunch menu is good:
- foie gras, with plum, beetroot, chanterelles and thyme jus
- Gulf mezze
- chickpea soup
- tomato soup
followed by …
- lamb loin, wtih celeriac, root vegatable, jus
- chicken breast, with beluga lentil, baby carrot, ratte potatoes, sauce foyet
- chicken biryani
- sea bass with baby turnip, beetrot, radish, asparagus, potatoes, fish veloute
- pocino and parsnip risotto
- ‘Textures’ of beetroot jelly, marshmallow and micro sponge
- chocolate and pistachio sphere with mascarpone and orange
- cheese selection
- ice cream
In reality, whenever I fly Etihad the chef proposes something different which he recommends as his signature dish, and I agree to it.
In the end, I had an amuse bouche of egg and parmesan pannacotta:
skipped the appetiser, had a lemon jelly ‘palat cleanser’:
followed by the crispy chicken chefs special! :
and the chocolate desert:
It looked great and tasted good, although it wasn’t necessarily ‘high end’. Of course, you don’t necessarily want ‘high end’ either but Etihad could raise its game. Emirates has a token caviar dish, for example, as does Lufthansa First Class.
The on-board bar
Last time I flew the Etihad A380 I was very impressed by the on-board bar. You still can’t argue about the style and the space.
You can’t also can’t argue, unfortunately, about the fact that it is TOO DARK! See below, if you can:
and with the flash on:
If you look at the video you can see how dark it was. I went down there and it was deserted. I had taken a magazine with me but reading was impossible. There was no-one else there at the time, even though the bar is also accessible to business class passengers.
It is a world away from the light, airy spaces that are the Emirates and Qatar on-board bars.
You can see more about the food and drink, plus the on-board bar, in the short (only 2 min 13 secs!) video I shot. This is the same video I linked to yesterday, if you watched it then.
If you can’t see the link above, click here to visit our YouTube page. You can also sign up to our channel on that page.
As I said yesterday, Etihad’s A380 First Class is something that you really should experience if you get the chance. The sheer scale of the First Class Apartments is worth trying.
The food and drink, however, didn’t match up. It is better than British Airways manages to serve in First Class, as it should be with a dedicated chef, but it wasn’t hugely better than you’d expect from your average branch of, say, Cote.
It is worth noting that there was only one other passenger on my flight in First who may or may not have paid for a ticket. My return flight on Emirates was 75% full despite having a larger First Class cabin, although you never know how many of those are mileage upgrades, oversell upgrades or Skywards redemptions. The Etihad product has been available now for couple of years and I would have expected loads to have picked up by now if they were ever going to.