Visitors to Pearls & Caviar on Friday March 22 would have had to manoeuvre around a large crane obstructing the main walkway. The massive ominous machine was not for any renovation plans, rather it rested as the supporting arm that would give some Abu Dhabi residents a memorable experience; combining height with fine dining. The Shangri-La hosted ‘Dining in the Sky’; where guests could savour the creations of Bord Eau chef Alexandre Pernetta while suspended 50 metres in the air.
The set-up seemed straight forward enough; a large bar surrounded by 22 chairs would be lifted by crane, with guests strapped into the seats and some staff members in the middle preparing a meal. The entire structure weighs roughly seven tons, and seemed quite sturdy on the ground. Chef Alex had already done the trip five times that day and admitted to suffering from nerves on his first trip. ‘It will be fine,’ he assures us. ‘It’s a great experience.’
Once a technician starts strapping us into our chair, the full brunt of the experience starts to sink in. We are snuggly seated with three straps securing us in place. Our feet are no longer on solid ground and the realisation that they won’t be for the next 30 minutes is a little daunting. The relaxing music playing out of the bar’s speakers does little to quell the nerves, yet all around the table are faces of excitement, eagerness and a little trepidation.
Soon we start to lift off the ground; the ascent is very smooth and you might miss it save for the changing skyline. We slowly make our way towards the heavens, with our feet dangling in empty space. The staff and chef Alex are very accommodating, however the jokes of falling and spinning around border on the nightmarish for those who suffer from height phobias. Nevertheless, the smiling staff and guests add to the enjoyment of the experience.
A round of applause breaks out as we reach our 50 metre mark, at which point chef Alex goes to work. The jovial Frenchman makes the task look easy, as he brings out plates and ingredients from two large containers by his side, and goes about making signature desserts for his restrained clientele. While waiting, we are able to swivel around on our seats and get a clear look at the city. The view is disarming and breathtaking; the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque glows on the horizon, with the lit streets of Abu Dhabi outstretching in all directions. Beneath our feet, we can spot the entrance to Pearls & Caviar, with some curious guests staring up at us.
Not long after, we are served our desserts, presented elegantly on rectangular white dishes. The pudding consists of a scoop of ice cream, a macaron, a slim slice of thick chocolate cake and a Madeleine pastry. Before we began, we weren’t sure how the chef was going to top the experience of being air lifted with dessert, however we soon realise Alex knows exactly how to complement and enhance the experience. The ice cream has pineapple bits in it and was very light and fruity. The light texture of the ice cream plays nicely against the rich texture of the chocolate slice, making the dessert an interesting union of extremes. The accompanying Madeleine is exquisite, as is the chocolate macaron.
As we devour our sweet creations, we began our descent back to earth. The entire process took 30 minutes, however we all longed for more. Shangri-La were selling seats for Dhs1,220; offering customers a three course dinner at Bord Eau to be culminated with the dessert in the sky. After having survived the experience of being lifted into the air by crane, we strongly recommend it. The combination of height and delicious treats is not to be missed.
The company that makes this unique affair possible is Dinner in the Sky; they have operated similar events all over the world, including Lebanon, Canada, England and France to name a few. Junior project manager Dimitrios Moustakidis spoke to us about the events in different cities; ‘We do weddings and all sorts of events, some last longer than 30 minutes, it all depends on the needs of the clients.’
To learn more about the company that operates these events, visit www.dinnerinthesky.com.
Other high dining experiences in the city
One of first revolving restaurants in Abu Dhabi.
Le Royal Méridien, Al Markaziyah (02 674 2020).
With a stunning view of the city on the 63rd floor.
Jumeirah at Etihad Towers, Ras Al Akhdar (02 811 5666).
Another revolving venue with a spectacular view of the Corniche.
Marina Mall, Ras Al Akhdar (02 681 9090).