Imagine a rollercoaster. Now imagine that you’re eating a world class meal on top of it. Does that sound like a feasible, practical or marketable idea? Well, for the next four days, that’s exactly what you can do from Southampton’s Guildhall Square, thanks to the Events In The Sky Team. A table, complete with a chef, a sommelier, waiting staff and 22 guests, is hoisted 100 foot into the air, and dinner is served.
This immediately opens up a lot of questions. Is it safe? How is the food made? And most importantly, what happens when you need the toilet? The ‘Dinner In The Sky’ experience has been around since 2009, and has mostly been the preserve of some extremely well funded corporate hospitality. In the last few years, however, they’ve opened up their events to the public, and Southampton is the most recent city to host the spectacle. Restaurants and cafes around the city are sending their most intrepid chefs and waiting staff to serve their menus in the air. Whether you fancy a Mettrick’s breakfast, a Chewton Glen three course meal, or even a Sprinkles’ waffle, you can have all of them served to you with a view. The company pride themselves on their safety record, although waiters report that the event hasn’t been so kind to phones: two mobiles and a pair of glasses fell to their demise in the last city visited, Bristol.
As for the food itself, it’s all prepared in front of you, on hobs and work surfaces built into the table. I was lucky enough to eat a meal prepared by the chefs from Supermarine, an Italian restaurant that’s recently opened in Woolston. The food was undoubtedly delicious, despite all of the logistical challenges that came with serving it. A starter of Grilled Polenta Bramata opened the meal, (or ‘artichoke on toast’, if you will), followed by a world class Venison Ragu. The flavours were just right for a grey autumn day, and the presentation was impeccable.
Aside from the stunning views and the mouthwatering food, the staff were all incredibly welcoming, easing guests’ fears, happily taking pictures and choosing some brilliant songs to set the atmosphere. The ‘flight’ lasted for about half an hour, so there was no need for toilet breaks, although we were told that it would be easy enough to be hoisted back down were anyone to become too unsettled with the height.
The weight of the table (around seven tonnes of metal, cooking equipment, people and cutlery) prevented the wind from buffering it too much, so there was hardly any movement. A see-through canopy helped give guests an unparalleled view of the city and the docks, and even catch a glimpse of the Isle of Wight, although wrapping up warm is to be recommended.
However, none of this comes cheap: for breakfast, you’ll need to have £50 to spare, and you’ll need to find three times that if you fancy a three course meal. Flights run throughout the day, starting from breakfast at 8:30AM to cocktails at 10PM.
This is just the latest in a series of events to come to Guildhall Square, as part of a wider initiative to boost businesses in the city centre and encourage investors to come to the area. Councillor Satvir Kaur, guest at the event and Cabinet Member for Communities and Culture, spoke about the importance of making sure that Southampton was seen as a business-friendly city, and that welcoming events and attractions was a vital part of that programme. Spencer Bowman, founder of the popular Mettricks coffee chain and Chair of the Go Southampton board, was equally enthusiastic about the benefits of such a visible event to the city, talking about the options that it created for businesses and jobs.
If you have a head for heights and are prepared to pay for the experience, the views alone are more than worth it, but the food will taste just as good with your feet on the ground!