Bar Brace Panino, Delta VGML Meal: beginning our Belgium trip

Bar Brace Panino

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.

Bar Brace’s counter

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.

Bar Brace’s dining room

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).

Toasting to a good trip at Bar Brace

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.

IPad at Bar Brace

Trying out the iPad

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.

VGML Meal on Delta 140 to Brussels

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.

About Karl Peterson

Karl Peterson is an avid traveler, passionate about food and food-related entertainment, completely allergic to dairy. He is founder, owner and principle contributor to "The Dairy Free Traveler" blog. The Dairy Free Traveler perfectly dovetails two of his greatest areas of interest: traveling near and far, and searching for great cuisine (especially dairy free!) The Dairy Free Traveler publishes original material about the dairy free lifestyle, eating the best food in the most interesting destinations around the world. Karl's tours take him from thriving New York City, to exotic Marrakesh, to elegant Paris bistros -- (yes! even Parisians have gotten on the dairy free bandwagon.) The Dairy Free Traveler himself also engages with independent dairy free food producers, highlighting new dairy free product launches and events that support dairy free entrepreneurs. Peterson is among the top 7 most widely read TripAdvisor reviewers in New York City and is repeatedly cited as a Top Contributor at His reviews have garnered more than 542,000 readers -- half in the U.S., and half among the many countries he has visited around the world. Beyond writing this blog, Peterson is a published author, with contributions to "Savoring Gotham" edited by Andrew F. Smith (published 2015 by Oxford University) and the forthcoming Oxford Companion to Cheese (a bit ironic, yes, but a professional is often asked to stretch beyond their comfort zone!).
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