The British Airways A380 First Class tasting menu – in pictures!

I promised to share a few photos from my flight to Los Angeles recently in First Class. It was the first time that I had flown a British Airways A380 although I have tried the Emirates and Singapore versions.

Tomorrow I will review the seat and the service.  Today, though, I wanted to look at the food.  In particular I want to review the special tasting menu that has been developed for the British Airways A380 routes.

When I was at ‘Taste of London’ in 2012, one of the BA chefs there told me that the A380s would have a more modern kitchen and theoretically offered more potential for serving high quality food.

Where they have ended up is this five course tasting menu, presented ‘in association with The Langham, London.  (The restaurant at The Langham is outsourced to the Roux brothers. There is no mention of Roux involvement in the tasting menu, however.)

There was an amuse bouche of glazed fig with citrus dressing. I am guessing that all diners had this, whether or not they went for the tasting menu.

British Airways A380 First Class tasting menu 1

Following the amuse bouche, each course was paired with a different wine:

Ballotine of Scottish salmon with fennel, picked apple puree and herb fromage blanc paired with Cline Cellars Marsanne / Rousanne 2012, Sonoma Coast, California

British Airways A380 First Class tasting menu 2

Beef tea with truffles and enoki mushrooms paired with nothing (‘just enjoy the intense flavours on their own’)

British Airways A380 First Class tasting menu 3

Lobster ravioli with char-grilled baby gem lettuce and Japonaise dressing paired with Meursault Les Clous 2011, Bouchard Pere et Fils, Burgundy

British Airways A380 First Class tasting menu 4

Braised neck of lamb with five-spice, bok-choy, carrots and grelot onion paired with Morgan Twelve Clones Pinot Noir 2012, Santa Lucia Highlands, California

British Airways A380 First Class tasting menu 5

Praline profiteroles with quince and Manjari chocolate sauce paired with Chateau Lamothe Guignard 2010, 2eme Grand Cru Classe Sauternes, Bordeaux

British Airways A380 First Class tasting menu 6

In theory, the tasting menu is a good idea. You have plenty of time, especially on a route like Los Angeles, so why not enjoy a long meal?  The numerous (not full) glasses of wine are also more manageable when you are not in a hurry.

In practice, I found it ‘good but not great’. Only the beef tea with truffles and enoki mushrooms really packed a punch – I found the other courses a little bland. I was pleased to have had the opportunity to try it, though, and the wine pairings seemed appropriate.  Whilst not being overwhelmed by the experience, I do recommend giving it a go – what’s the point of another piece of beef, plaice or guinea fowl?

The second meal on the daytime LA flight is afternoon tea. This is, luckily, a cut above the Club Europe version with a more appetising selection of sandwiches and a tasting selection of cakes.

British Airways A380 First Class afternoon tea

And, of course, British Airways scones.  One of which came frozen.

Tomorrow, more on the seat and the on-board service.

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  1. Stephen F says:

    i have saved enough for 3 of us to go F (with 241) to LA or Miami and was very excited at the prospect. I’m now feeling a bit downbeat after these reviews.

    What made it worse was reading a review in the Daily Mail (no I don’t read that paper!) of Singapore Suites which looked AWESOME! The lounge and service looked much better than BAs offering.

    Oh well I’m sure it will be fine….

    • On 241 it’s fine, as it has a cache still but he in no doubt that you would need to quite mad or on expenses to pay BA any money for this product. It is a mid tier business class offer and no more.

      • Raffles says:

        You should compare my BA F piece with my Singapore Suites piece from August, to be fair.

        It is a little unfair to compare a product reviewed by an overexcited small child with a product reviewed by a world-weary mid 40’s year old ….

  2. Well yours was at least loaded!

    I think BA should be both worried and ashamed when they read comments such as yours and many many others. the product is no where near a real First Class product on any level or at any stage of the journey.
    Bland food, frozen scones, lack of choice and ill trained crew are hallmarks of a product that does not even match the business class offers of many airlines.
    The bottom line is that BA at fortress heathrow has no need to provide anything more and they exploit that position very well. This will only change when they are exposed to proper competition and from a new airport. Without it bland frozen offerings will simply become a happy memory!

    • Raffles says:

      I didn’t think I came across that harshly and it was never my intention if I did! This is by no means a terrible product, it is just that others do it better. You may prefer Waitrose to Sainsbury, but if Sainsbury is all you’ve got then at least you have the comfort of knowing its not Lidl …

      • gnarlyoldgoatdude says:

        This comment really made me laugh.

        Sainsburys is high culture for my area.

        When I’m in Malta (as Tom will confirm), Lidl is viewed in awe as a proper supermarket.

        • You’d be surprised what you can find at Lidl.

        • Lady London says:

          Big Lidl fan here. The rest of my shopping is done at Waitrose. Can’t be a$$ed with all the ones in between.

          Those wines were well matched to the food. In particular I like the Bouchard.

        • squills says:

          I’m amazed at the pervading snobbishness about Lidl & Aldi. They are great at what they do well, ie good quality continental deli stuff at amazing prices for the UK.

          I wouldn’t buy my loo rolls or toothpaste there but for dairy, processed meats, Italian etc they are miles better value than & equivalent to or better quality than Waitrose. They both (Aldi/ Lidl) have enormous buying power in Europe.

          Aldi doubled turnover & profit in the last 12 months yet the stick in the muds don’t seem to get it.

  3. I had the same amusee bouche on a different route on the same day, so I imagine everyone on the BA network had that, not just your cabin…

  4. Sam wardill says:

    I am a little disappointed that your experience backs up my own. BA First is (unlike their recent fly on the wall documentary might suggest) not really anything special.

    • I flew BA First last month from BOS-LHR and it was very disappointing. It’s so inconsistent and seems to depend pretty much on the crew of the day. Some are very good, others not so. When you get a good crew you do feel welcomed and, dare i say, special. The cabin supervisor will introduce himself, someone checks your drinks, food, etc. on a regular basis, you’re offered the full bed service, etc. etc. With others it really is no different from Club and on this particular flight it really was lacking. No regular checks and no bed service even offered (it was a night flight BTW). It’s this inconsistency that annoys.

      • I see these comments all the time yet in over 30 BA F flights (all redemptions too) I never get anything other than amazing service.
        I put it down to the way I treat the crew. A polite smile never goes amiss, yet for many premium BA pax it seems this is too much.

        • All I can say is that, IMHO, you’ve been very luck then. As for the polite smile, that is certainly never lacking in my case. i worked for many years in the hotel industry, including one of the best hotels in the world, so I know what it’s like to have customers of that ilk. It’s also why I’ll always be more than pleasant to the crew and usually have an excellent “banter” with them. As others have said, there are good and bad, and when it’s bad a polite smile really makes no difference. My personal view anyway.

        • It wasn’t aimed at you at all. Just a general observation. I have seen examples of where polite passengers have been treated with better service than the surly ones. Is that correct? Well morally yes, perhaps financially for BA no.

  5. Phew! Luckily no cherry tomatoes in sight! You know, the one’s that have a tendency to explode if you try to cut them with a knife, and shower your nice clean shirts with a red stain. I’ve learn’t over the years to pierce them very delicately with one of the fork prongs (or eat whole of course), but still can’t understand why airlines still serve them!

    • …..I just looked at the Salmon pic again….is that a cherry tomato?! LOL!

      • Thywillbedone says:

        The sealed plastic cups of orange juice also present the same threat – from bitter experience you must always open the foil away from you!

      • Thywillbedone says:

        The sealed plastic cups of orange juice also present the same threat – from bitter experience you must always open the foil away from you!

  6. Patrick says:

    Having just stepped off Frankfurt to Bangkok with Thai First class on an A380, I can say the food quality is incomparable to these pictures. Thai service was fantastic and I had two courses of caviar, lobster (which was good) and a nice duck curry amongst cheeses and pudding etc.

    This all reminds me of why I loved the BMI Diamond club days – you could try different star alliance airlines without being encouraged to use one with a 2f1 voucher. Now, with Cathay and Qatar etc being twice as expensive as BA with a 2f1 voucher, we have to limit our experiences to BA and the ropey food.

  7. Far too much fish for my liking!

    More generally, even with the new kitchens I think they need to realise this is still in flight food and do more by way of things like nice stews (which can have flavour and keep the meat tender) rather than steak-style pieces of meat.

  8. Dominic says:

    I think the comments about service making or breaking First are 100% right. The bedding and pyjamas, etc, separate out the product a little from Club World. It is also lovely being in a small cabin with only a few people. But, in that context, the service is critical (especially on a day flight). When it works well, BA First is wonderfully and sensitively attentive – but when it is not it is really disappointing and mars the product seriously.

    • Small cabin on BA first is 12 or 14. KLM have fewer on business on same foot print! My personal recommendation however is AA777-300 and business in the front cabin behind first. 2 rows of 4 so just 8 people. CX offers same if going East. Both hard products are a match in my view for BA first and leave club world for dead.

  9. D Carter says:

    Miles away from the 777 Tokyo service – we’ve started eating in T5 rather than suffer the truly terrible food on the plane….

    • D. Carter – may I ask, what is so bad about the BA Tokyo service? (to HND or NRT ?) I’m hoping to fly business from EDI to Japan later this month and am wondering what is the best option (as not booked yet) – should I be avoiding BA altogether? (they’re not even cheap and my budget certainly isn’t limitless) I flew HND-DOH-EDI (business) last month, it wasn’t bad but wasn’t perfect either.

  10. D Carter says:

    Miles away from the 777 Tokyo service – we’ve started eating in T5 rather than suffer the truly terrible food on the plane….

  11. I’m beginning to think that I need to stop relying on the companion voucher. It’s so easy to target collecting say 180,000 avios to use with the voucher for 2 first class returns with ba, when in fact I would be better trying to get to 360,000 and fly the same route using a normal redemption with another airline. The problem is, with no work travel and no ba status, that’s difficult!

    • Nick, after flying BA in J LHR-Chengdu then F in BA HKG-LHR my next redemptions will be in J…. Better value in terms of miles burnt and tax paid.Just a thought….

    • Patrick says:

      Exactly Nick – my international work travel has stopped so 360k for two returns is too hard to earn.

      I have started buying Avianca miles during their 2f1 offer each year to at least get 2 one ways to Asia using Star Alliance carriers.

      • I’m not complaining – after all, I’ve no entitlement to benefit from a loyalty scheme if I rarely use it for cash fares. And I still thoroughly enjoyed my recent flights in BA First. However, as I walked in to the cabin and saw my seat, my initial reaction was “is this it? Is this really as good as it gets?”. It was more functional than pure luxury – although it is a very comfortable way to travel, let’s not pretend otherwise. I guess I just wanted to see real luxury… and it looks like I need to ignore the companion voucher and look elsewhere for that.

        • …. it also begs the question (which is almost certainly answered on here somewhere) – what is the best first class product you can book with avios?

  12. Thywillbedone says:

    I echo most of the comments here. I flew the same route as Raffles in Sept, first time in First on the A380. I think the hard product is quite good/private (compared with First on the 747 which is more cramped) although as many say, it is near impossible to get a good ‘lounging’ position with the seat. The main fail for me was on food: I would class it as a poor business class meal which was overcooked (I thought the newer ovens would make a difference??) and the afternoon tea looked great but the sandwiches were stale and tasteless (quite a feat!). The cutlery is also really budget in appearance. Best to think of it as Business + as many others say but don’t get overexcited. The only thing that BA really do well is drinks, the LPGS is excellent and they had some excellent reds on board. Its a shame that the only thing they are very good at is something that is hard to make a mess of!! The icing on the cake for me was a screaming baby in the cabin with parents who couldn’t have cared less – that was my bad luck I suppose!

    • I only book long haul premium cabins using redemptiosn and to some extent the reported mediocrity of BA F is not an issue – what matters is how much it costs me to get those miles and the comparison to other carriers. For example its 150k Avios in F plus a 241 for 2 to Mex return vs 200k Flying Mile son VS to CUN. The cost of each flight is broadly the same in spend on BA Amex vs MBNA. So the question then is BA F better than VS UC? (when i asked the question on Flyer Talk i got a resounding vote for BA F) . Yes I’d love to fly on the super Asian carriers in premium cabins but I suspect its going to cost me a lot more to earn the miles required. When I used to be a FF for work I avoided BA as I thought their J class was rubbish and If I had the money to fly premium i’d still avoid them – however as my decisions are just about earning and spending miles BA are good value.

  13. I thought this was a post about the food, it seems to have given us all indigestion about other topics! I am a totally ‘normal’ bloke and the odd time I have flown BA first I have found the food to be ridiculous. The flowery language used to describe what it is to be is indecipherable. I’ve even asked the crew…….’what is this?’ and often they haven’t a clue either. Perhaps I’m a heathen. I went to the Fat Duck at Bray and thought it was complete and utter tripe (it probably was!). The food for me in First should be simple and fresh. Served in an appetising manner (we eat with our eyes) and understandable. A nice steak with Chunky Chips and Mushrooms and a fresh salad would do the job for me. Ok, ok….I’ll turn right next time I get on a plane!

  14. Off topic, flying ba back from dubai on Sunday. Which is best lounge to use at dubai?

  15. poincianakings says:

    This post is rather timely. I am currently researching honeymoon options for next year and contemplating F on the outbound with CW on the inbound. One of my reason for thinking F on the outbound was to sample the Concorde Room and the Tasting Menu. However, having read some of the comments on here I am seriously not sure.

    Bearing in mind we will be using our hard earned dosh for these flights what are peoples thoughts?

    Oh and does this tasting menu ever change? IIRC its been the same for about a year now.

    • Without knowing the price gap, and your tolerance for the extra payment, it is hard to tell. Extra £1000 per person return over CW? Probably worth it for a long day flight like LA. Not worth it for, say, an overnighter to Cape Town or a hop to Dubai.

      Remember too that you can probably get indirect flights to your destination for the same price as BA CW. Emirates has good F deals at times for eg as does Etihad.

    • Don’t know if it’s any good to you but you can buy 360,000 avios on ebay at the moment. It could be worth buying those and getting a redemption. Could be cheaper , just a thought.
      Also keep an eye out for the ba evouchers on ebay. They can save you £100 per person or so.

  16. Off topic but my husband is just about to head for SFO for his flight home, Does anyone know if there is a priority pass lounge he can use? I tried checking on the website and it mentions the united club lounge but then says select membership and membership through a US financial institution are not allowed access.(his membership is through the plat card) Thanks.

    • Amex Plat is OK. There are certain variants of PPass issued by US banks calles Priority Pass Select – that one does not work at SFO. A UK Amex issues one is OK.

    • RIccati says:

      Priority Pass from the UK-issued AMEX Platinum works in the United Club at SFO. On reception desk there is a note saying that PP issued for cardholders of the US financial institutions not accepted.

      On domestic side, the lounge is tricky to find (no signs). It is in the annex terminal towards Gates 70-90 (Section F). Do not know if there is a separate United lounge in International sections G or A.

      There is another United Club lounge in construction on the ‘ring’ linking all sections. There is also an American Express Centurion Lounge in construction right after domestic security.

      On a side note, the United’s transfer desk at Heathrow Terminal 2 is an abomination.

      There are up to eight staffed counters all behind a single security guy who interrogates passengers. I was asked to produce a hotel reservation for the US before being allowed to come to the counters and told I can stand and miss my flight if I do not wish show a paper reservation from a hotel!

      I have been transferring from Stockholm to the US via LHR Terminal 2 and it was stressful. Terminal 2 seems to have the same flight connection problem as Terminal 5: you have to go through security on arrival (slow and poorly organised), then boarding pass check, then must visit transfers desk (who might reprint your boarding passes, no change of seat, no reason) and then, run to B gates for United which are another 20 minutes away. At the boarding gate, there is a full security check with questions, swipe, laptops out of bag and powered on, and some paper logs.

      Allow yourself well above an hour for Star Alliance transfers via Heathrow Terminal 2. I did not expect the flight connections at Heathrow being so poor.

      • squills says:

        Probably a one-off.

        • RIccati says:

          On a contrary, there are a lot of problems in pattern of how the Heathrow security and airlines operate on flight connections. Read into the paragraph about all the steps involved and how much time it takes.

          There are threads on Flyertalk about this, mostly the impossibility to connect in T5 under an hour. T2 experience is emerging exactly the same. The airlines have no powers to make security more efficient and CAA seems to regulate poorly. If it takes 1.5-2 hours from landing just to do a flight connection something is massively wrong. Among Flyertalk comments, “He/She should write to the Chairman of this circus that calls itself and International Airport and ask for some answers.”

          I had an original boarding pass printed in Stockholm so I could have proceeded directly to the gate without the need for any interrogation! So much for security.

          Personally, I will avoid connecting at Heathrow as it proves stressful to the extreme. Departing is a different story if you allow yourself 2-3 hours at the airport, on connections you have no choice.

        • squills says:

          OK I sympathise with you. Where next?

        • RIccati says:

          “Write to the Chairman” and then some.

          Avoid Heathrow connections, for T2 connecting flights specifically there are only two metal detectors/short security belts for the entire terminal. They are bound to be clogged at all times. No chance of smooth connection from the start.

          If have to connect at Heathrow, make sure all flights are on the same itinerary/e-ticket, so that it is the airline’s responsibility to connect, including security and screening delays.

          There are other choices for connecting at EU airports/Iceland where they do not re-print boarding passes and only ask if you have an ESTA – no unnecessary interrogation. Heathrow employs 75,000 staff, what are the odds all of them will be trained and helpful?

  17. Metatone says:

    There was a program on a while ago, I think it involved Heston Blumenthal, where they explained the physics of how taste changes at cabin altitude/pressure. Basically most flavours become much less punchy. People typically use much more salt in the air.

    Disappointing then to see BA focus on a menu which looks good, but is destined to be bland in the air. Salmon for example is a terrible choice, naturally delicate…

    • squills says:

      I saw it, your recollection is correct.

      Don’t expect a decent freshly prepared steak in the sky ISTR – though thoroughly cooked & re-heated dishes such as Osso Buco or Coq au vin or Confit de canard should be fine, similarly chilled crisp dishes ie salads etc.

      • squills says:

        It’s Mission Impossible (British Airways episode) on Channel 4 but their system is playing up

  18. squills says:
    • Interesting article, thanks. Personally I hope Little Red stick around as it’s handy having a T2 option from EDI and the lighter loads make for a more pleasant flight! Redemption costs are also lower than BA and if doing longhaul VS it’s nice to be able to have a through ticket.

      Reading some of the other comments here (and from personal experience) I wish Walsh would bring some pressure to bear on Heathrow to improve their woeful connections experience!