When we arrived on August 31st at JFK Terminal 3 for our Delta flight to Brussels, Belgium, I felt secure. I had plenty of dairy free snacks with me for the flight, and had settled on Bar Brace as a haven, a good place to eat before getting on the airplane.
Checking in, we discovered we would be boarding a shuttle that would take us to Terminal 4, from which terminal we would actually board the airplane. Terminal 4 is not great for food, and besides, with the terminal’s renovation in process, the options for eating there are slim to none. Normally I like to get to the gate and then scout out eating options, but in this case I decided we should stick to our original plan – i.e., relax and eat in Terminal 3, and then board the shuttle and head to our gate.
The décor at Bar Brace is just as jazzy and fun in person as it looks in the pictures. The booths and stand-up stations with iPads for placing orders combine 1950s chic and 21st century cutting edge technology. Unfortunately, the booths with iPads are all 2-seaters, and there were 3 of us, so we took a round table for 4, where our service was provided the old-fashioned way: by waitress.
We began by toasting to our trip with glasses of Prosecco. I ordered a chicken salad Panino with lemon mayonnaise – the one thing on the menu that was obviously dairy free. Therese had 3 bruschette, toasts with different toppings like herbed goat cheese, and Eileen had a Prosciutto and Mozzarella Panino. My sandwich was nice: crunchy bread with warm chicken salad inside, with a side of spicy pickled vegetables (red pepper and radish).
Even though we didn’t use the iPads to order our food, I wanted to see what they were all about, so I found one that was free and played around a bit. There are a number of icons on the screen – for example, one for Free Cell Solitaire – but the only one that seems to work is the one that takes you to the menu and ordering options. Perhaps they only allow you to play games after you’ve placed your food order! Or – more likely – the machines are still so new that Bar Brace has yet to activate the rest of the apps displayed on the screen. Overall, between the decent but not great food, typically high airport prices and fun decor, grading from A to F, I’ll give Bar Brace a B-minus.
After finishing our meal, we shuttled over to Terminal 4, boarded Delta flight 140, and took off without a hitch. For my dinner, I had requested a non dairy vegetarian meal or VGML in IATA code parlance – unfortunately, Delta does not offer a non lactose meal or NLML, as many airlines do nowadays. I also had a full bag of snacks, just in case the meal was not palatable.
What I got for dinner was a basic salad of greens with one cucumber (with a container of Naturally Fresh fat free balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing), a small fruit salad and a multi-grain roll (with a container of Promise Buttery Spread). The main course was a thoroughly underwhelming orzo pasta with vegetables and beans. The greens salad with dressing was ok, the fruit salad also just ok, the main course ok as well. The Promise Buttery Spread does indeed contain milk product – specifically, whey – continuing Delta’s propensity for including dairy in a dairy free meal. So I stowed away the roll for eating at another time. Overall, while I was able to eat most of the food, it was a poor effort – I give it a solid C-minus.
Later in the flight, hungry once again, I snacked on some slices of salami that I had brought with me and watched the movie “The 5-year Engagement” on the personal in-flight entertainment television. Afterward, I took a little nap, with images of the exciting Belgium trip ahead dancing in my head.