Sometimes it pays to be critical. Many bloggers and writers work on the Thumper policy – if you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all. But twice in the past few months, I’ve been offered opportunities to do something based on a snarky or critical comment I’ve made on TasteTO. The first was an offer to appear on a live call-in talk show on a local cable station (which I didn’t actually do) because of my “City of Toronto, What the Fuck?” rant about street cart vending, and the second was an invitation that showed up in my email box to take part in Dinner in the Sky, after I had referred to it as “some crazy-ass French scheme to feed people dinner while they’re hoisted 50 metres in the air”. The original company is Belgian, actually, but the folks running the Toronto arm are from Montreal.
And since I’m never one to turn down a challenge, I agreed to do it, dragging Greg along for support.
I predicted that Dinner in the Sky would be like an amusement park ride with snacks and I wasn’t far off the mark. Upon arriving at Yonge-Dundas Square and signing three pages of waivers (none of which were of the “I will not sue if I fall off” variety, but all disclaimers allowing use of video and photographic images if I chose to take part) I was directed to a swank lounge area to wait for my “table” to be ready.
We were given a brief info session where the construction and safety of the table were explained, and then were ushered out to a gigantic red carpet to be strapped into our seats.
Six-point seat belts with straps that run from between the legs, crossing over the centre of the chest and running through a slot in the seat above the shoulders, as well as a strap that goes around the waist – all attached at the back of the seat – meant that falling out just wasn’t an option. Moving, not so much either. And while the seats have 180′ of spin, the festively plump, like myself, really couldn’t swivel more than 45′ or so without smushing a hip. And sadly, the tiny people didn’t bother.
Up we go! Everyone was given a laminate ID card in the lounge area, and we were told to clip our cameras to the ID tag so it wouldn’t fall if dropped.
The food (as you’ll see) was fairly minimal, but the champagne flowed pretty freely.
Many people seated near us (and it wasn’t too windy to talk), while not actually freaking out, refused to look down. As far as I was concerned, the whole point was about looking down, otherwise, it was no different than eating dinner on a 10th floor balcony.
In addition to the servers, the centre area of the table had photographers as well. This guy was connected via a wireless network to a printer on the ground, and we all received photos of ourselves as we left. Except you can’t actually tell we’re way up in the air in the photos, and mine showed me mid-chew, with half of my lipstick gone. Pretty.
Will Smith looks over Yonge Dundas Square. I usually hate this particular part of town, but I have to admit that I’d have loved to experience Dinner in the Sky at night, just for some Blade Runner-ish views.
Looking down at the crane.
Another view of the crane, plus a lady who kept flirting with the servers.
Oh, yeah… there was food. This is a cornish hen roulade lined with spinach pesto, served over fennel mash, early summer succotash, red pepper sauce and fennel pollen. It was good, but not outstandingly memorable. Dessert was a square of chocolate. The 1-hour dinners also include a salad. The dinners tomorrow start at 7am, with a breakfast menu designed by Chef Anthony Sedlak.
One more view looking down in the other direction.
While on board, do not light matches (we’re actually not sure what the first one is), undo your seatbelt (as if!), smoke, or spill your drink!
Overall impressions – a fun novelty, but not heart-stoppingly fabulous. Because you are strapped in so securely, it’s hard to move to look down, and all you can really see are the folks across from you and the buildings behind them.
The table is touring the country over the summer and then will be available for functions. No word on the price to rent the thing, but I’m guessing it’s not cheap.
It was a fun, once-in-a-lifetime experience, but it wasn’t really scary enough, imo. Other than the first few seconds when the table is lifted off the ground, the experience of being in the air is really not noticeable. I wasn’t really expecting it to fulfil my “Drop Zone” craving to go hurtling towards the ground at astounding speed, but a little part of me secretly hoped it would.