The following critique represents my personal thoughts on the AA first class dining experience. I have had the privilege of dining in michelin star restaurants throughout the world as well as business and first class cabins of various international airlines. I will never proclaim to be an expert in these matters, however I comment with a modest note of experience. The Fight from JFK to Heathrow departed at 9:40am and a full breakfast service was offered on board followed by various snacks for the rest of the flight. The snacks were in most cases quite decent meals in themselves. One thing for sure is that you will not go hungry onboard an American Airlines first class flight.
The wine list is decent and the surprise hit was the Gosset Grande Reserve champagne. Most first class airlines choose the standard Dom Perignon or Krug however AA has picked one of my all time favourites with Gosset. It is a smaller and more refined house of the champagne region of France and quite difficult to obtain in most wine stores worldwide. You will have difficulty finding Gosset even in France. It is special and rare and something to really savour. I give American Airline 10 out of 10 for selecting this champagne on board its international long haul first class.
This morning the flight had several decent options for a substantial and varied breakfast – brunch. To start, a warm bagel was accompanied with smoked salmon. Next were options like a cheese omelette with mushrooms and peppers – pomodoro sauce and potato croquette, whole wheat pancakes with scrambled eggs – blueberry sauce and potato cake, tomato parsley frittata with a shrimp and vegetable salad as well as a chicken and smoked gouda quesadilla. There are also yogurt, fruit plates and cereal choices available.
The smoked salmon starter was outstanding with a very warm and chewy bagel. Cream cheese is offered on the side. As a starter it was sized perfectly and the capers gave a nice bite to the palate at 39000 feet. Well paired with the champagne Gosset. Champagne for breakfast I hear you say? of course ladies and gentlemen … this is first class.
The crew offered bacon or sausage to go with my breakfast choice. The sausage was decent and firm with a slightly spicy aftertaste that was subtle. The eggs were the correct temperature and fluffy. The potato croquette was somewhat dry but adequate. The pancakes however were a complete disappointment. They came off really dry and tasteless. Good thing there was plenty of butter and maple syrup to help. But even then, it still tasted like I was eating a piece of cardboard that had been flavoured with syrup and blueberry compote. Not sure why the blueberry compote needs to be in a aluminium foil container. Not a good dish really.
I enjoyed the quesadilla’s quite a bit. They were a small portion but packed with flavour and had it not been for the cabin pressure I would think I was in a nice little family run mexican restaurant. Execution and presentation on this dish gets full marks.
I should note that the coffee was very good as well as the freshly squeezed orange juice. After the main meal service, options are available for snacks such as a ham and cheese croissant, bulger wheat salad with scallops and mussels, corn and chicken bisque and assorted ice creams. There was also a cheese plate offered. The cheeses were lovely with a mellow flavour that worked very well with the champagne. I chose to stay on the Gosset Grande Reserve for the entire flight … sipping modestly and occasionally I might add. It is obviously important to be able to walk off the plane when you get to the other side. Plenty of water in between sips is always advisable.
The bulger salad with scallops and mussels was absolutely fantastic. Don’t let the size of the plate fool you as it is a substantial meal. It was served about 1.5 hours before landing and I was impressed with the freshness of the seafood. The mussels tasted as though the were caught and prepared only hours ago. The scallops were monstrous and beautifully sweet with a gentle texture. It was fresh and cool to taste and a perfect energiser before landing. I strongly recommend this dish if available on your flight. seafood is always a tough thing to execute long haul. American airlines performed flawlessly on this menu option.
Overall I am pleased to say that American airlines is stepping up to the standards that other international airlines have achieved. The company has had many turbulent moments in its past and I believe those things are well and truly behind the organisation.