Don’t look down! London in the Sky’s event lunches with altitude
England’s capital is one of the best cities in the world for eating out and experiences such as London in the Sky, an al fresco lunch 100 feet above sea level, only add credit to the capital’s gourmand reputation.
London in the Sky is managed by Events in the Sky, which also has the same bird’s-eye view dining experiences in cities around the world such as Bristol, Brussels, Jaffa, Istanbul, Split and Beirut, to name a few.
I was lucky enough to be invited along to one of the lunch flights in Peninsula Square next to the O2 arena, where the experience is located. I knew it wasn’t going to be an average alfresco lunch sat in the park, soaking up the rays and wrestling the remaining crisp crumbs into my mouth. But I wasn’t prepared for quite how epic the setup of London in the Sky was.
How it works: Two fully decked-out plinths are attached to cranes which are anchored to the ground. The plinths each carry a small, open kitchen, a bar and 22 go-kart-like chairs. Once all the diners are strapped in and secure, the cranes winch the plinths to a height of 100 feet, lower if it’s extremely windy, and then the plating up begins.
London in the Sky is in partnership with Social Pantry, a London-based catering team run by Alex Head who set up the company in 2011.
All the food is prepared on the ground, mere seconds from the two cranes and placed in ovens or chillers on board the plinths until it’s ready to be devoured. The two-person chef team then plate up the dishes and add the finishing touches.
The lunchtime flight offers a vegetarian, pescatarian and meat menus, with the option to adapt the dishes to suit dietary requirements. I chose the truffled goat’s cheese, heritage beetroots and babycress to start, followed by the roast hake with lemon and herb couscous and to finish, the richest “no flour” chocolate brownie, drizzled with salted caramel sauce.
Combine this with welcome bubbles and free flowing wine, it was easy to forget that I was unnaturally high off the ground.
The views across London from the plinth lend themselves as a welcome distraction for vertigo sufferers. Diners don’t need to worry about missing out on the views behind them either, as the staff on the ground use ropes to rotate the plinth while it’s in the air to ensure diners and their cameras get to experience London in the Sky from every angle.
There are eight flights a day on each plinth. Starting with two breakfast services, mid-morning prosecco and cake flight, two lunches, afternoon cocktails and finishing with two dinner flights. The variety provides a setting for every occasion, from unusual breakfast meetings to incentives.
As the plinth began to lower, I half expected it to plummet, like one of those fairground rides, but every element of this experience is controlled and double-checked, so every diner can dig in and sip to their heart’s content without a worry… just don’t look down.