On a recent Qantas flight Australian Business Traveller had the opportunity to sample the airline’s refreshed international business class menu – specifically, the ‘small plates’ option.
Why small plates? Because not every traveller wants to dive into a three-course meal built around one large main dish.
For starters (no pun intended), many business travellers and frequent flyers have already enjoyed a substantial meal at the airport lounge.
Yet barely an hour after the plane takes off, another large meal – often a proxy for lunch or dinner – comes rolling your way.
For me, that’s way too early. And while the best passenger experience allows you to dine at a time of your choosing, it’s pleasing to see that airlines are now fine-tuning the inflight menu to allow for lighter meals.
Qantas’ revised business class menu sees the introduction of small plates alongside the traditional main plates.
And as the menu is still designed by superchef Neil Perry and his Rockpool team, the meals themselves are top notch.
While travellers with a hearty appetite might rate the small plates as just an entree, these downsized dishes are a welcome alternative meal for people who’d prefer to graze more lightly during the flight.
"Passengers can order a small plate as entre followed by a main plate" a Qantas spokeswoman advised Australian Business Traveller.
"It's flexible dining so they can order any rotation, such as three small plates if they wish, or two main plates for example."
On my flight (QF81, from Sydney to Singapore) the small plates available were:
- Cream of broccoli soup with croutons
- Roast beetroot salad with goat’s curd, rocket, peas, toasted almonds and balsamic vinaigrette
- Fish cakes with nuoc cham
- Wok-fried mushrooms with tofu, white noodles and chilli
Deciding to treat these like two smaller dishes to replace the main, I chose the fish cakes and wok-fried mushrooms (I missed out on the beetroot salad, which was clearly a popular pick as as there weren’t enough to go around our packed business class cabin).
The fish cakes with nuoc cham (above) were excellent, although definitely in the ‘starters’ league and would have been well paired with the salad.
The wok-fried mushrooms with tofu (below) proved to be a more sizeable serving – if you don’t have a large appetite, this one dish may be all you need.
Having a lighter meal on the plane is also healthier and can even help you sleep better during the flight.
The crew on my flight suggested that passengers who wish to opt for two small plates and skip the main should feel free to do so, but your first two choices might not be available if other passengers have already spoken for them.
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About David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.