I just tried the menu that will be served on the Qantas Dreamliner -- and the best dish is in economy

Simon ThomsenRoast chicken with red rice, Mediterranean vegetables, soy beans and thyme jus from the Qantas economy Dreamliner 787 menu

Chicken is Australia’s national dish, so it’s fitting that the best thing on the new Qantas menu for its 17-hour Dreamliner 787 flights from Perth to London is fowl.

The non-stop flight to London debuts on March 24, and Qantas has put an enormous amount of thought into the world’s longest flight, with chef Neil Perry, the airline’s creative director of Food, Beverage & Service, collaborating with scientists at the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre to develop dishes that encourage sleep at optimal times during the flight.

Perry’s left chilli off the menu because it’s considered a stimulant, there’s a sparkling kombucha drink and probiotic-infused lemonade to aid digestion and a bespoke herbal tea with lemon verbena, chamomile and lemongrass to help you relax.

Despite the length of the non-stop flight, there are just two meals – dinner and breakfast, with plenty of time to rest in between.

Perry worked with sleep specialists, nutritionists and metabolic scientists to create a new menu that he also hopes will keep people hydrated, help with sleep and reduce jetlag. The airline will also have dozens of Frequent Flyers on every plan hooked up to wearables and apps to collect data on sleeping and activity patterns, mental state, eating patterns and hydration before, during and after the flight.

Business Insider recently had a preview tasting of the new Dreamliner menu and the food is as good as anything you’d find in a hatted capital restaurant.

Seared Cone Bay barramundi and herb garlic potatoes and broccolini, with a lemon, olive and almond salsa is excellent, but then, in business class, you’d expect it to be.

But the standout amid several dishes spanning the economy, premium economy and business menus is one you’ll get to enjoy down the back of the plane.

The roast chicken with red rice, Mediterranean vegetables, soy beans and thyme jus is one of those dishes people up the front may turn around at look at with envy as they tuck into roast English beef with Yorkshire pudding, peas and onion gravy.

It’s flavour-packed, hearty yet light and refreshing, the sliced roast chicken breast fragrant with the citrussy notes of the thyme beside a jumble of crunchy green soy beans, nutty red rice so appealing several people at the table asked if you could get it to cook at home (the answer’s yes – try health food or Asian grocery stores) and chunks of sweet pumpkin, refreshing capsicum and grilled zucchini doused in a liberal splash of the jus.

Combined, it offered the reassurance of a dinner roast without the stodginess. It sets a whole new benchmark for economy food, although we’ll be interested to see how it looks when handed out on the tray.

The inaugural non-stop Qantas Dreamliner flight for London departs Perth this Saturday.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.