Sammy Milton puts her vertigo to the test - and dined 100 feet over Bristol's Harbouside
When I was invited to be one of the first to try out Events in the Sky’s highly anticipated Bristol in the Sky event some weeks back, I accepted immediately. Why not? It sounded like fun. It was ages away. Over the past two weeks I’ve been in a completely blissful ignorant state and thoroughly enjoyed talking to all the fantastic restaurants that are going to be involved. And then I suddenly found myself standing opposite a rather imposing ‘sky table’ attached to a crane, getting a safety briefing from a nice man, who was telling us how to eat our dinner suspended in the sky – without dropping anything or falling out.
Not your average Wednesday evening then. We were given our choice of the seats (those who were brave could opt to sit on the corners of the table, where the sheer drop was most apparent. I was not one of those people) and were artfully strapped in, facing into the make-shift kitchen that occupies the middle of the platform.
If it still didn’t feel real, it certainly did as we started (without warning) being lifted into the sky. I’ve never experienced anything quite like the sensation of slowly crawling up Bristol’s skyline, and once we’d reached our allocated 100 feet, it was all I could do just to keep my eyes on a fixed point and pretend very, very hard that I was somewhere else. There’s not much time for nerves though – within five minutes the extremely talented team from Menu Gordon Jones had placed a starter of mushroom mousse, whole cooked mushrooms and candied pine nuts in front of me, accompanied by a (very welcome) glass of wine. Though my appetite was slightly thwarted from fear, I managed to wolf it down and (very slowly), started to relax.
The view was fantastic. Our sitting started at 6.30pm, meaning we caught the last of the sunshine, and it was beautiful beyond words. For a view that you become so accustomed to on a daily basis, seeing it from a completely different perspective was both invigorating and terrifying. I began to enjoy myself.
Two more courses swiftly followed; a tartare of grouse with a crisp shallot, mushroom cream, watermelon sorbet and crunchy leaves went down a treat, as did a coil of crispy jellied eel on a bed of creamy mash and beef collagen. All served with a particularly delectable wine flight, my only complaint was that it was mostly fizzy – I had (rather stupidly), not relived myself before we went up, so by now, I was starting to feel slightly uncomfortable. No matter, the wine was delicious and I drank it anyhow.
Now completely relaxed, we took this opportunity to boldly swing our feet off their little platform in order to fully take in the sunset. The table rotates throughout the meal, meaning everyone gets a chance to see the different views, and we were now facing towards Clifton. The setting sun was glinting off various Bristol landmarks; Bristol Cathedral was bathed in a golden glow, and Brandon Tower was lit up like a Christmas tree.
Dessert came in the form of a frozen berry panna cotta, chocolate mousse, a pistachio corn bread, berry sorbet and fresh, whole cherries. A dish wonderfully reminiscent of the last days of summer, we ate it gleefully before we were slowly lowered to the ground. I didn’t want it to end, and judging by the looks on my dining companion’s faces, they didn’t either.
I feel very lucky to have been part of such a pioneering dining experience, and would urge anyone, no matter what your predisposition to heights, to face your fears and go on the ride of your life.
Bristol’s turn with Events in the Sky is finished now, but have a look at their website to see where they’re headed next.