Sunday, November 15, 2015

A Virgin Atlantic Dinner

We were pretty excited for our first flight on Virgin Atlantic. We've always had a good experience flying Virgin America domestically, so we were looking forward to our transatlantic flight. From the start, the service was great. We were greeted with blankets, sleep kits, good headphones, and bottles of water. My entertainment system wasn't working (and I was worried I'd be stuck with nothing for the whole flight), but after we alerted them, they checked on it once we were in flight and rebooted it without me even needing to ask again. So far, so good.

Sorry the pictures are all a little bit purple ... That's the Virgin "mood lighting"

At some point, they came around and handed out dinner menus. The menus listed out all the components of dinner and the 3 options for the main course. We liked that because we could look at what was in store, see what the ingredients were (to watch for allergies/intolerances), and decide at our leisure and not in a split second on the spot. Why doesn't everyone do that? Anyway, the 3 options were beef, chicken, and pasta (penne in pesto sauce). A picked the beef, and I picked the chicken. We planned to try at least a bite of each other's entree as usual, so we wanted to make sure we got different things.


Each tray came with a main dish, dessert, and a collection of appetizers/sides - a dinner roll, side salad, and cheese and crackers. (Technically the cheese and crackers were listed in the dessert section of the menu, but we tend to eat those at the start of the meal as appetizers.) The roll was a standard dinner roll, fine but nothing special. The "mixed salad with ranch dressing" came with spring greens, iceberg lettuce, shredded carrots, and a tomato. There was also a single packet of ranch dressing that wasn't really enough dressing to give flavor to the entire salad. Overall, the salad was fine, but again, nothing special. The cheese and crackers were fine, but fairly standard stuff. We do like Tillamook cheese so that was nice; seems like it's a common choice on transatlantic flights. Generally, our feeling about these sides were that they were good, solid choices, but nothing to rave about.

Beef in red wine

A got the beef in red wine, which was described on the menu as "tender, juicy slow cooked beef in a classic French sauce," with mashed potatoes and roasted root vegetables. The dish that he got looked like it was divided in thirds. One third was the very tender beef with lots of well-flavored gravy. The second third had creamy mashed potatoes, and the other third had the roasted root vegetables, which looked to us like carrots, parsnips, and potatoes (including purple potatoes). This dish was great. The potatoes and root vegetables were hearty and tasty, the texture of the beef was quite good for airline food, and the gravy was delicious.

Chicken teriyaki

I chose the chicken teriyaki, described on the menu as "delicious chicken pieces coated in a soy, honey, and ginger sauce, with fluffy steamed rice, carrots, and sugar snap peas." I lifted the foil off my dish and found what looked like a single chicken thigh cut into 3 pieces, 3 slices of carrot, and a single sugar snap pea. I thought maybe there was another sugar snap pea hiding under the chicken since the menu specifically said sugar snap peas, but there was not. One single sugar snap pea. I was disappointed with the quantity of vegetables, considering they're really not that expensive and A had gotten so many more vegetables in his beef dish. This dish was pretty much all chicken and rice. The rice was fine - nice and sticky - but I wouldn't call it fluffy. (We make fluffy rice at home.) The chicken was good and I liked the sauce, but there was just not enough sauce for the amount of rice in that dish. I ended up putting the rest of the rice into whatever beef gravy was left after A was done. Flavorwise, the dish was fine and it tasted clean and healthy, but it was a little underwhelming as far as what was actually on the plate. I was expecting more since I had already seen how great A's dish was!


The dessert everyone got was a slice of strawberry swirl cheesecake from Eli's Cheesecake out of Chicago. I'm not a big cheesecake fan, but for whatever reason, strawberry cheesecake is the one type I'm actually okay with. The cheesecake was fine, but we were mostly disappointed because there was no pudding. See, we had forgotten that in England, they use the word "puddings" to mean desserts. So when we saw on the menu "puddings" and "strawberry swirl cheesecake" one on top of the other, we thought there would be pudding and cheesecake. When the tray arrived with no pudding, we were confused until we noticed that pudding looked like a section heading, and then remembered the English meaning of pudding. Oops. Our disappointment wasn't the cheesecake's fault, but our own.

At some point after dinner, they came around and distributed pieces of milk chocolate to close out the meal. That was a nice touch, similar to the piece of chocolate that would come with every Virgin America sandwich. The dinner overall was a fair amount of food considering we were eating after 11 pm. The best part was clearly the beef entree. I had orderer's remorse.

As we settled in after dinner, I read all the parts of the menu that I hadn't read before when checking out the options for dinner. I was particularly interested in this statement on the back (I wonder if I'm the only person reading the back of the menu) about fairly traded ingredients, ethically sourced meat, and sustainable buying. We thought it was pretty cool that an airline as big as Virgin Atlantic could make this type of commitment on some really important environmental issues, and were pretty proud to have chosen an airline that was willing to try in the first place.

After dinner, we attempted to get some sleep. Our bellies were full, we had good music and movies to keep us occupied, and the lights were out, but it was so hard to get comfortable for some reason. I usually have no problem sleeping on planes, but for whatever reason, I don't think I slept more than 15 minutes. A slept a little longer, but still not that much. We may not have been very well-rested when morning came along, but at least we'd had a pretty good dinner!

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