Restaurants in the sky
Be a gourmet traveller with Time Out’s essential guide to the best international inflight dishes, from business to economy. By James Wilkinson
1 Air New Zealand
Dijon mustard baked chicken breast with pumpkin, lentils, Swiss chard, lemon tarragon jus Air NZ’S culinary team, led by Peter Gordon and Michael Meredith, have created a menu in Businesspremier that consistently delivers, especially this dish, with chicken so juicy it tastes like it’s just come off a rotisserie. This is our top airline meal of the past five years.
Katsu pork ramen with udon noodles, bok choy and edamame beans Australian food scene legend Neil Perry has been the talent behind Qantas’s inflight dining for over 20 years and on every flight in Business Class there’s a dish finding inspiration from one of his eateries, spanning Rockpool to Spice Temple. 3 American Airlines Lobster ravioli with sautéed spinach Things keep getting better at AA, from the seats to the food on board, particularly on flights from Sydney to Los Angeles. The lobster ravioli in Business will have you calling for seconds.
4 United Airlines
Macadamia and coconut crusted chicken with tomato-basil sauce, au gratin potatoes, carrot, yellow squash and zucchini United’s new Polaris Business is about enhancing the travelling experience and while the sleeper service might be better than it has ever been, the food has also gone sky-high, like this chicken dish that has been a favourite on recent flights.
Lamb rump roasted and sliced, served with a creamy potato gratin, green beans and a tomato basil olive jus It might be a low-cost airline, but not when it comes to the Business Class experience, where you get premium wines and three choices of top quality main courses, including lamb rump, currently on flights to Hawaii.
Grilled fillet of Australian grass-fed beef with red wine balsamic sauce, potato and cheddar au gratin and mixed vegetables You’ll be thinking you’re in Business Class when you have dinner on British Airways in Premium. This dish is also served up the front on other flights for good reason: the beef is always perfectly medium and never dry.
Beef ragout: beef stew in red wine with seasonal vegetables and mashed potatoes Singapore Airlines’ global culinary panel includes top chef Matt Moran, and the food on board, from Economy to First Class, is always high quality. The beef ragout is one of the airline’s best dishes on flights from Australia. 3Virgin Australia Cottage pie with garden vegetables Virgin Australia’s Premium features a three-course menu crafted by Luke Mangan, alongside a choice of 14 wines by the glass, so even if you’re not in ‘the Business’, you’ll be sipping on top Australian drops with your delicious cottage pie.
Szechuan chicken, pak choy with steamed jasmine rice Premium is available on every Cathay Pacific flight from Australia to Hong Kong and the cabin continues to serve up Business Class-quality dishes, particularly the Szechuan chicken that’s not too spicy.
Smoked salmon and spinach quiche with braised beans and sautéed mushrooms It’s firmly about a luxury food experience on Qantas in Premium as well as Business and First, alongside wines that are also served to customers at the pointy end from take off to landing.
Kalua chicken with steamed rice and vegetables Pacifica Honolulu owner and chef, Chai Chaowasaree, leads the airline’s culinary team and the result is favourite locals’ dishes from the Hawaiian Islands, like the slow-cooked Kalua chicken that’s one of the world’s best economy class meals.
2Air New Zealand
Scrambled eggs with chicken sausage, baked beans, fresh fruit and yoghurt You’ll want to wake up for the economy class breakfast on Air NZ, which will see you asking for a second helping of sausage and fruit as the flight attendants pass by. 3British Airways
Slow-roasted Wiltshire pork belly with celeriac mash and sautéed broccolini Britain’s flag carrier certainly wants to keep you happy at the back of the jet: serving up slowroasted pork belly will always get our attention. This is a dish you can pre-order before your flight.
Stir-fried spicy chicken, bean curd and steamed fragrant rice Cathay Pacific likes to give you a taste of where you’ll be flying to when you take off and the Hongkanese dishes served in economy, such as stir fries, are what you must order when given several choices.
Roast chicken breast with barbecue sauce, creamy mashed potatoes and buttered seasonal vegetables Luke Mangan’s culinary creativity can be found from nose to tail on Virgin’s widebody jets, especially on the new flights to Hong Kong that feature this Australian classic.
Air New Zealand