Scream if you want to eat faster!
Strapped into a padded chair, feet dangling in the air, as a crane lifts you 100ft above the banks of the river, Dine by the Tyne may resemble a fairground ride, but it’s actually a lot less scary than it looks.
I went along to the first night of this four-day dining experience which will see different restaurants prepare nine flights a day for sky high diners - though I was assured we weren’t the guinea pigs for the event. Indeed, this is a tried and tested sky table restaurant that’s provided unique selfie opportunities across the globe.
At Sage Gateshead’s Performance Square, it hoists you higher than the Angel of the North. Those without a head for heights may not want to look down, but you can’t help but look around you at the winking eye of the Millennium Bridge, the shimmering curved roof of the Sage and across the skyline of the city as the sun sets.
But what if you drop your fork? Not to worry, there’s an empty drop zone beneath you just in case. That said, the table is a sturdy affair and aside from the panoramic views and bit of a chill in the air, doesn’t feel too dissimilar to ground-level dining. My wine glass didn’t wobble once.
For our flight, the action centred around chefs from Hawthorns, a brasserie based at the Crowne Plaza hotel, who whipped up the finishing touches for their dishes in a mini central kitchen.
With the 360degree views, the food has to fight for your focus, but this meal did just that, in fabulous fashion.
First up, we all took a break from snapping the view to enjoy a gin and juniper carpaccio of roe deer, gooseberries, horseradish meringues and hazelnuts.It was a light way of easing you into this unusual meal setting, with the subtle nuances of the carpaccio lifted by the tangy fruit.
There’s a break in between courses as the table gradually spins - don’t fret, this is no waltzer - so that everyone can enjoy the best vantage points.
The second course came in the form of smoked salmon, lobster and celeriac remoulade, ceviche of hand-dived scallops, wasabi and peas. Hawthorns takes inspiration for its menu from its locality, which they proudly displayed with this sea food feast, featuring salmon from up the road in Craster. It was a delicate balance of flavours, which were well-executed with what must be a steady hand to make food look so aesthetically-pleasing while suspended at such a lofty height.
By this point, we were well into the swing of this sky dining malarky, and a heavier course of guinea fowl breast, leg bon bon, potato, woodland cepes and spinach was served. It’s a drier meat than chicken, but this version managed to retain its succulence and was given some crunch with the accompanying bon bons.
A swivel round to get a view of the towering Baltic, for those brave enough you can spin your chair, and it was time for pudding. It was a pretty in pink rhubarb, aniseed, meringue and vanilla custard: a blend of smooth and tart to bring you back down to earth.
In total, you’re in the air for around an hour. For those with the stomach for a mid-air meal, wrap up warm, charge your phone and sit back and enjoy this unique eating experience.
•Prices for Dine by the Tyne, which runs until Sunday, May 15, start from £50 with flights prepared by chefs from Peace & Loaf, Redhouse, The Gin Bar, Marco Pierre White’s Steakhouse and more. For more details and to book, visit http://www.eventsinthesky.co.uk/events/dine-by-the-tyne/