Don’t Look Down: One Anxious Writer's Take on Dinner in the Sky
I can’t quite remember when exactly, but at some point while I was strapped to something akin to a racing seat, dangled by a crane 150 feet high, my brain chose to conveniently remind me of Cameron Crowe’s immortal words from Almost Famous: “I'm flying high over Tupelo, Mississippi, with America's hottest band, and we're all about to die."
Granted, I was not with America’s hottest band (it was more a motley crew of journalists). Nor was I in any way close to dying (I had give or take four industrial-strength straps securing me to the aforementioned racing seat). What I definitely was, in a positive turn of events, was flying high—soaring, even—over the waters of Manila Bay, and with a stunning view of its famous sunset.
Thank God I remembered to wear shoes with straps.
I’ll admit this wasn’t really a situation I thought I would ever find myself in, but I don’t know anyone who would pass up the chance to take part in Dinner In The Sky Philippines’ maiden flight. These sky-high meals, after all, were a global phenomenon, in literally one of the world’s most extraordinary restaurants. The knowledge that we’d be served a four-course meal by one of Solaire’s top chefs, Waterside’s Hylton Le Roux, definitely sweetened the deal—real or imagined fear of heights be damned.
Still, I’m a Virgo, which pretty much means I overthink every little thing. The list included (but wasn’t limited to): (1) how high we would be, and what impact of falling from that high would be on the human body; (2) what would happen if anyone had to, er, answer the call of nature and; (3) not dropping my phone.
My initial fears were allayed, genuinely, when I saw the setup. Twenty-two seats around a platform circled a substantial space where the chef and team would work for the full hour we’d be in the air. There were thick bolts, harnesses, safety crew in hardhats, the whole shebang. You know that feeling you get when everything just looks...reliable? Safe? That’s what I felt. The glass of wine I downed at Solaire’s VIP lounge moments earlier must’ve also helped alleviate my nerves.
The second point, I later realized, was a major concern for everyone. The Dinner In The Sky team kindly addressed it with gentle reminders to visit the washrooms before boarding. If you have the constitution of a puppy, go twice—we won’t judge.
As for not dropping my phone from roughly the equivalent of a 14 story building? Well, that was all on me, as it was for each of the 21 other diners. If anything, it was the most legitimate of my fears, looming all throughout the hour-long dinner, despite the very wide surface on which to dine and safely place all gadgets. Could we be blamed, though, for wanting to document every moment what for many of us would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience? It isn’t touted as one of the world’s most Instagrammable restaurants for nothing—a mid-flight selfie got even me triple-digit double taps—and that put the usual dinner table niceties like small talk second only to getting the perfect shot.
But what’s a restaurant without food? I, for one, would be loathe to risk life and limb for subpar dishes, and in this arena, Chef LeRoux’s Latin American-inspired menu did not disappoint. The starter, Tuna Tiradito with aji Amarillo paste, lime pickled red radish and cassava crunch, was bright, fresh, and with a hint of spice. This was followed by Anticuchos de pollo, grilled chunks of chicken thigh filets with a tamarind habanero glaze, mojo verde, baby beetroot, and crispy cancha corn. Diners were asked to choose between seafood (Mexican Adobo spiced Atlantic salmon served atop a bed of red quinoa, edamame, garnished with Huancaina cream and chili corn salsa) or pork (Cuban style slow-cooked pork belly with Mojo sauce, agave roast baby carrots and spicy refried beans, topped with chicharonnes). There is also a vegetarian menu option, which includes the same luscious dessert as its more meat-centric counterpart, a dulce de leche cheesecake dome that guests were asked to plate themselves and garnish with a selection of goodies like caramel popcorn (a personal favorite), chocolate cake chunks, and caramel sauce.
Whether the interactive dessert was the chef’s attempt to distract us from the platform’s slow descent, or just one more layer of enjoyment added to the whole experience, I still have no idea, but it surprised me how quickly one hour went by. Food is an excellent distraction, although the entire ascent, flight, and eventual descent went by incredibly smoothly, the occasional gust of wind notwithstanding.
With prices starting at Php 9,900, going all the way up to Php 25,000 for all the bells and whistles, is Dinner In the Sky worth it? As with most every other thing in life the answer is: it depends. Do you love a thrill? Are you looking for something new to experience? Do you have a theory that food tastes better when your feet are dangling over the waves of Manila Bay? Do you like cranes? Then the answer for you is a resounding yes. Move fast, though, because Dinner In the Sky is currently only scheduled until May 21st, and seats—first come, first served, mind you—are going fast.
For more details and reservations, visit dinnerinthesky.ph