What sort of dining experience is the right sort of dining experience for the diner who's seen it all, done it all, eaten it all, and is just so weary over simply sitting in a nice restaurant and eating? Please, do not suggest a revolving restaurant, or dinner theater, or a drive-in experience with a movie. A themed restaurant? Those have been done for years. Waitstaff on roller skates; eating food in beds? Yawn. The latest trend in dining is way more exciting than that. I'm not even talking about Chinese hot pot chain Hai Di Lao, which is bringing to America their famous signature "noodle dance." Nope, it's even better: It all began in Belgium six years ago, writes Daniel Michaels in The Wall Street Journal, "when publicist David Ghysels and crane specialist Stefan Kerkhofs seated 22 people around a chef and hoisted everybody 180 feet into the air for a meal. Today, the Dinner in the Sky franchise has tables dangling in more than 40 countries, serving about 1,000 people each month."
Dinner in the Sky. Yes. Or, in the words of Ghysels, "It's just a table hanging from a rope." (It does look both scary and kind of intriguing.) Who wouldn't want to do that? (People with vertigo, maybe, or fears of heights, or fears of paying $500 each for the pleasure of dining really, really alfresco.) The fact that people will pay $500 each to do this in places like London, Brazil, France, Tokyo, and beyond has sparked the need for ever-more imaginative ideas from Ghysels and Kerkhofs. Next up: "acrobatic catering," with "cocktails served by tightrope walkers." They've also tried "Marriage in the Sky," which people haven't yet gone crazy for ($15,000 for 20 guests; might as well get hitched in a shark tank). There's "Lounge in the Sky," and "Showbizz in the Sky," which also involve getting lifted in the sky and being entertained, too.
Why dine in the sky? One big perk: It's terrifying! ("When the team dangled a musical duo to serenade a nearby table of elevated diners, the piano player got scared that his bench would slip off the airborne stage, recalls Mr. Ghysels.") Well, except it's not that terrifying. Say some, it's "actually no more disconcerting than a ski lift," or "it's like a big elevator" — and you know you love to eat on ski lifts and big elevators. It's different than just sitting in a restaurant. The views are excellent, especially if you select a place with great views already. Everyday concerns like when to go to the bathroom, or how, challenges you've pretty much become expert at addressing, become new and interesting again (the tables are lowered, that's how). Everyday concerns like "is this dinner safe?" are also addressed: "An early focus was on making the equipment safe and on assuring diners that they wouldn't slip off. Tables and seats have redundant attachments and an extra person is on hand at each meal to enforce strict procedures."
Well, this is fun, right? No one needs to dine in the sky (unless perhaps you're on a 20-hour flight somewhere), but if anyone wants to, and has a spare $500, the option is there. Or you could go to Per Se, or maybe go drink in a water tower. Personally, I like restaurants and bars on the terra firma, but I'd try this, maybe, if someone wanted to give me $500. Anything to rev up dinner.
Images via EventsintheSky.com.