My “Bucket list” items have included getting a tattoo, seeing the Big 5 on Safari, jumping out of an airplane (Skydiving) and a few others that I have been blessed enough to be able to tick off. The remaining items to complete before I “kick the bucket” include a cruise, seeing the Northern Lights (preferably while on a snow sled pulled by a team of huskies) and going up in a Hot Air Balloon.
So when The Hotel invited me to be their guest for lunch with Dinner in the Sky – I realized that I would partly be fulfilling the dream of seeing the world from the sky (like my dream of hot air ballooning) by being suspended 150 feet at Parc Cinquantenaire – but better still – I would be enjoying a 5 course meal along with premium wines while sitting there!
Disco ball & signage between the “tables”
Chef Lionel Rigolet** of Comme Chez Soi was joined by Chef Pierre Balthazar from The Restaurant (which is situated in The Hotel in Brussels) and between them, they served up a delicious menu for 22 guests! I had the pleasure of eating at The Restaurant with Alison from Cheeseweb in 2013 – an experience that I will never forget (and one that we both happily paid for :)). And currently Chef Pierre Balthazar launches a new weekly menu at The Restaurant each Thursday utilizing local, fresh & seasonal ingredients and served with style!
Chef Pierre Balthazar and Chef Lionel Rigolet
But lets start from the beginning …. Parking was easy to find at Autoworld at Parc Cinquantenaire and just a few steps away from the Welcome Lounge & registration area. Once I had signed in (electronic registration) at 11h30, I was given an identification fabric wrist band & escorted into the tented lounge to enjoy a glass of Laurent Perrier champagne.
Soon it was time to “board” – we were called up pair by pair to be safely harnessed into our comfortable “racing car” type seats. A 5 point type harness was secured with a very high level of detail & checking by the team to ensure maximum safety (and had me envisaging my own daughters car seat). I can honestly say that I felt 110% safe.
12h30 and we were in the sky… the initial reaction as you are being airlifted is fear, but this is quickly replaced with awe & wonder as you gaze upon your surroundings! And no sooner had we arrived at the top, when the first of the appetizers was served. In the infamous words of Chef Pierre Balthazar => “2 fingers, 1 bite”, we all quickly munched on a Beetroot meringue topped with wasabi & smoked eel. If this was the way we were to begin, I knew that we were about to embark on a taste explosion! YUM!
The next appetizer was Nobashi shrimp & king crab along with guacamole, basil oil and yuzu. The Japanese word Nobashi means stretched… and you can see that this is a pretty long shrimp 🙂
The final appetizer plated included delicious slices of beef marinated in soya, saké, cumin & ginger and served with grilled aubergine caviar. Pure heaven – excuse the pun, especially since we were in the clouds! But you barely required a knife to cut the meat as it was so tender.
At this point, everyone was feeling far more confident in their seats – swiveling around to get a better view or photo opportunity and enjoying the djs choice of music.
Time for the starter = Lobster mousse with shellfish & Chardonnay coulis. Did I mention “heaven”?? I could have licked the plate!
This was followed up with the main course of Farmers poultry served with passion fruit, sweet potato and a corn tempura. At this point, I was so in love with the food, that I wished that the day would never end! The chicken was soft and succulent and the addition of extra jus (which was poured on by one of the chefs) just made me smack my lips in pleasure (again and again).
Our plates were cleared & our crane lowered us down to the ground… there I was thinking “oh no, I hope that this isn’t over already”.. but it was only a quick stop to collect the tray of pre-prepared desserts. Strawberries and Lime… different textures and flavours and the perfect ending to the perfect meal. The crispy little pops of lime were a welcome tart crunch to the otherwise creamy & sweet strawberry panna cotta type dessert. And the mini meringues… yes please!
The meal was over – the food and wine consumed – laughter and new friendships made… and 14h00 was on the clocks. Time to sing a song together, wave our napkins and finally descend to the ground for coffee and biscuits in their premium lounge.
Cost of tickets are 285€ for Dinner in the Sky and include 5 courses by a starred chef along with accompanying wines. At first, I was shocked by the price (which I didn’t pay) and couldn’t believe it was actually worth that type of money – BUT I can say that after living it, it is worth it. Obviously not an everyday experience but definitely one that you would put onto your own Bucket List as special and noteworthy!
Two additional points to add => Firstly, there are obviously no bathroom facilities while you are in the air for 1hr30min, so you should ensure that you make use of the high-end portable toilets on the ground near the lounge. And when I say high-end… I do mean that inside the “box”, you could be forgiven for forgetting that this was a port-a-potty! And secondly, as a woman, don’t take a big handbag… as there is no place to secure it, or leave it (i.e. no lockers) so you need to either leave it in your car or take a small enough bag that can fit on the table in front of you.
An enormous THANK YOU to The Hotel & The Restaurant for this wonderful experience. Although this was an experience that I did not pay for, all opinions are truly honest & my own.