Checking Out The Qantas LAX Lounge Autumn Menu

Qantas recently had a media event at the Qantas Lounge LAX to showcase their autumn menu, and Neil Perry (the celebrity chef who does their catering) was there. While I appreciated the invite, I didn’t attend.

With very few exceptions I don’t attend media events, as I’d rather write about my independent experience with something, which will almost always be different than what you experience at a media event (note to travel companies: if Shawn Mendes is the celebrity guest at any of these events, I take back everything I said!).

I consider the Qantas Lounge LAX to be one of the best airline lounges in the US (even though I think it’s overrated in some ways), and in particular I like it for the food. Thanks to my LATAM Black status (which is oneworld Emerald) I have access to the Qantas Lounge LAX even when traveling with American domestically.

While I use the lounge all the time and don’t write about it, I figured I’d share my experience with the new autumn menu. Here’s what the all day dining menu looks like, for anyone passing through the lounge in the coming weeks/months:

Ford and I were both visiting the lounge, so we had the chance to try a few different things. We were quite hungry, and getting on a transcon in economy, so figured we might as well eat/drink up.

I had a glass of sauvignon blanc, while he had a grape medley cocktail.

My favorite thing on the menu at any Qantas Lounge is the salt & pepper squid, which is delicious and not at all overrated, in my opinion. Ford ordered it, though I decided to try something else.

I had the Moroccan spiced carrot soup with coriander yogurt and dukkah croutons, which is a recent addition to the menu, and was excellent.

For the main course Ford had the Chinese roast chicken with Sichuan eggplant, gai lan, and jasmine rice.

Unfortunately I felt my options were pretty limited. They were out of the sea bass and lasagne, so only two of the four main courses were available (c’mon, they’ve gotta be able to do better than that). I’ve had the steak before and didn’t want to replicate what Ford was having, so I ordered the reuben with sauerkraut and pickles. It was pretty good for a reuben.

I appreciated that they mixed up the sides a bit, including adding roast cauliflower and chickpeas with hummus to the menu, which was creative and tasty.

Then for dessert Ford had an ice cream sundae with strawberry, banana jam, amaretti cookies, and pistachio.

I had the sticky date pudding with pecans, ginger butterscotch sauce, and mascarpone.

While both were good, I preferred the sundae, as the sticky date pudding was super sweet (as you’d expect).

For the most part the food was excellent. As I’ve explained before, I do find the food in this lounge to mostly be (good) restaurant quality.

The service still is (and always has been, in my experience) well intentioned, but not restaurant quality. Service seems to always briefly be attentive, and then it becomes a chore to flag down a server. It also doesn’t seem like they dedicate specific servers to specific tables, but rather everyone sort of roams around.

Personally I tip when dining at the lounge. I don’t fault those who don’t, and I know tipping in lounges is controversial. But I also totally get why they can’t provide true restaurant quality service.

Unless the servers are going to be paid a salary on par with what they’d make in nice restaurants including tips, they’ll never be able to retain talent. I’m not suggesting tipping is the only solution, but the reality is that they’re not going to greatly increase pay, and I doubt a lot more people will tip (which I don’t blame them for, to be clear), though I also think it means we have to accept the inevitable reality of service not being great.

Have you dined in the Qantas Lounge LAX recently? What was your experience like?

Comments

  1. Tipping is bad only because it has become robotic. There is no correlation between the service and the tip. Waiters dont have top earn it anymore.

    Another among many aspects of life where Republicans won by permanently changing perception that waiters salary is the customer’s problem. The only aspect Republicans have not won is being able to convince any of us that they deserve to be treated as humans. Because we know they are not.

  2. When I was there last I got really friendly with one of the servers and he said the starting wage (he was about 21 I think) was $40 an hour.

  3. I dined there 3 weeks ago. I was flying first to HKG (haters gonna hate again). The service and food were correct. Since I paid for my first class tickets I did not feel the need to leave a tip. However if you fly with points, you could at least leave a small tip.

  4. @Jesse
    WHAT?!? If someone works at the QF lounge with that wage at 8 hours a day, 6 days a week, that’s almost 100k per year. Thanks for deciding on my future career 😉

  5. Lucky, is there something you aren’t telling us? In your prior post you said mains weren’t good half the time. I took away from that article that you had gone off the lounge. But now you say you use the lounge all the time and you love the food??

  6. In my many visits to both Qantas and AA Flagship First Dining at LAX, the food has always been significantly better at Qantas.

    Lucky, I don’t get how you were raving about Flagship then going off about how Qantas is overrated… Maybe because AA is more exclusive and because you spend too much time at Qantas?

    Qantas food is at least similar to what you’d find in a contemporary restaurant (especially the calarmari). On my last visit to AA, I was served canned corn soup under blaring country music.

    To each his own, I guess…

  7. @ Ryan
    I’ll share what Lucky didn’t as I was there 2 weeks ago flying Cathay in First
    This lounge can’t hold a candle to Qantas First in Sydney
    The product quality is crap in my two experiences with stale low quality bakery products
    The signature corn fritters were burnt dry and an embarrassment to everything Neil Perry once was
    Cooking Execution sucks
    I do like the Smith Tea it’s outstanding
    Qantas First in Sydney as well as Melbourne does it way better and I couldn’t care less
    If flying out of LAX If miss the experience completely
    Where when in either SYDNEY or Melbourne I wouldn’t miss it
    Even if I don’t have enough data points there are more misses than hits here
    And the morning service even when near empty is asleep at the wheel with little attention. To detail
    The night crew in the past vastly more proficient not that the food is.much better
    WhAt ever happened to simple well prepared dishes like his legendary restaurant Rockpool bar & grill?
    He’s lost his Midas touch imho

  8. I know the lounge is in the US though Australia (Qantas being an Australian airline) doesn’t have a tipping culture and we have high minimum wages

  9. @Endre paying with points or cash shouldn’t and doesn’t make a difference on tipping (you don’t need to tip at all).

  10. Lounge employees get access to the lounge as guests on any flight out of LAX. Good perk. Servers do seem out of it at times and many servers are not well trained about some of the food categories. I saw one server struggle to understand what a customer was getting at when they asked if they still served any crudo. She said maybe they can undercook the fish or some shrimp for the customer. Yikes. I sit at the bar when possible where I find I can get what I want really fast even on tight connections.

  11. @Jesse – I dont know if you were told a fabrication by the server and or you just want to cause controversy by sharing “fake news” but no server in the QF lounge makes 40/hour. That would mean they make more than entry level pilots on Qantas or any US carrier. Please use common sense before posting.

    It’s my understanding that they make near what LAWA requires all suppliers to earn.

    https://www.lawa.org/en/lawa-businesses/lawa-administrative-requirements/living-wage-and-service-worker-retention-ordinances

  12. It is not,and never will be, fine dining; it’s more like a very good cafeteria with table service, ie tasty , uncomplicated and largely pre-assembled dishes requiring little actual cooking time. If that fact is accepted then the experience is okay; if the expectation is greater then there may well be disappointment.
    In Australia I don’t bother going to the F Lounges much these days: too much time is wasted waiting for the so-so food ( and the inconvenient placement of power outlets is really annoying). The J lounges are adequate and self-service.
    I hope no one tips in Sydney or Melbourne; it would be a serious faux pas.

  13. I am so over celebrity food anywhere outside their own restaurants. I am so over getting on a Qantas flight to anywhere to or from Australia and putting up with very ordinary Neil Perry food regardless of the city lounge or flight.

    Worse, having such limited choices of something one would actually want to eat on a flight. Just like many fine dining restaurants, one actually ends up choosing via the process of elimination of all the things you don’t want to eat. That’s fine if you choose to go to his restaurants but I haven’t. I have stumped up hard earned dollars for a long flight and I would like to see an array of meals that I would actually like to eat. Perhaps they are trying to get us all to eat in the lounges (but seriously, how many years can we eat salt & pepper squid which is not always consistent or good) and not need service or food on their flights, who knows?

    The only thing more annoying and now I am really into first world problems, is the fact that Qantas continues to list several champagnes on their menus but continues to load only one crap one! Not a good experience. Maybe with climate change we won’t always be an island and can move away from monopolies and into the land of competition!

    I don’t think I should look at OMAT first thing in the morning, it clearly makes me grumpy or perhaps its the thought of my QF flight on Friday thats doing that!

  14. All menus this round shrank DRAMATICALLY to save costs.

    This new one is GROSS — ask ANY of the staff. We joke that in all the years NOBODY in the kitchen can cook chicken (sawdust) or eggs or burgers correctly.

    OneWorld Lounge might be better.

    The fish is a misprint. It is FARMED black cod.

  15. Interesting that the salt and pepper squid always gets rave reviews. Maybe it was the night I had it, but it was pretty ordinary. Same goes for the steak sandwich onboard in QF First … overrated.

  16. Australians rarely tip in Australia as we dont have a tipping culture, The high price we pay for goods and services factors wages in.
    A lot of employees in certain industries can’t accept tips either, for example, casinos, RSL, clubs of certain types and even some bars. Alot of contracts for peoples jobs have specific rules for accepting “gifts” monetary or non-monetary. in a domestic Qantas club or at any airline lounge for that matter in Australia I dont think you would ever see anyone tip and for the matter they MAYBE have a policy that would’t allow them to accept it either way. Should try it though and see what happens.

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