I've read the various threads about airline food, and looked at the great pictures of airline meals, but nothing has dealt with these specific questions. First, the review: I had to fly from LAX to Atlanta, GA this week on 1 day's notice, hence no special meals could be ordered. Also was forced to fly Delta because of scheduling. AVOID Delta unless you bring your own food (which I should have done except I expected more from them in 1st Class). A 4-1/2 hour lunch flignt to Atlanta, one would think that the meal would be paced. Nope. Right after takeoff at 10:30 am they brought the obligitory hot towels, drinks and, in one fell swoop, the entire meal. The only thing good I can say for it is that it was hot (including the salad). Chicken Quesadillas, which were 90% tortilla, 5% chicken strips and 5% bland cheese, probably jack. No spice at all. The warm salad was iceberg lettuce pieces, 1 cherry tomato and 2 slices of cucumber. The ranch dressing wasn't too bad. A slice of some mystery chocolate cake for dessert. Paper napkin, albeit very thick. Plastic cutlery. No salt & pepper shakers, but little packets with insufficient amounts of each instead. No starter course.
The 5-1/2 hour dinner flight the next day: Hot towel, drinks and..."chicken alfredo with pasta." Again served all at once. This was the cousin of the lunch chicken, except the chicken chunks were a little thicker and had what appeared to be "grill" marks on them. The Alfredo sauce was actually a chicken pot pie sauce and the bow-tie pasta was cooked to the melting point. Not edible (although at baggage claim I overheard a man tell his wife that she would have enjoyed the meal as it was delicious - he didn't have his Hound ears on). The salad was the same iceberg, this time without the tomato but with carrot strips, same cucumber slices and Dijon/balsamic dressing. The dressing wasn't bad. The roll was some type of wheat, chilled to perfection. The same mystery cake. I actually found myself thinking with envy of the miserable-looking sandwiches they were peddling in Coach for $8. After dinner drinks? Nope again. The attendant told me "they've taken Cognac and Grand Marnier off our liquor cart" even though they were listed in the in-flight magazine. All they had was Tia Maria (UGH!).
Recognizing that standardization is the name of the game, that different origination hubs may have different catering kitchens, and that 1st Class isn't ever going to be what it used to be, now the query: What airline has the best food in 1st Class for domestic flights, especially to/from LAX? And what airline on domestic flights has the best "experience" in 1st Class, ie, starters served in seperate courses, menu choices, beef carved from the trolly and desserts served in a seperate course (ala American Airlines ice cream sundaes), etc.? After all, on a 5-1/2 hour flight you'd think that they could spring for seperate courses. Plastic knives are a way of life now, but how about metal spoons and forks? And maybe cloth napkins? I know that sound business reasons exist for the economies, I'm just curious about what you think is the best of a sorry lot of 1st class choices.