Pop-up restaurants have been the rage for some time now, but you could say they have now reached new heights, especially here in Hampshire, by giving people the opportunity to dine with the addition of a view of Southampton city centre and waterfront.
Located in Guildhall Square, on a platform, a table had been set for 22 guests. In the middle of the platform was a small kitchen/work station with enough room for 2 chefs to plate up. Not much of a view from the Guildhall Square you may think. However, the view would come courtesy of a large crane that the platform would be suspended from. I would never have imagined that I would ever eat a meal 100 feet up in the air from a crane, especially a four course fine dining meal!
On arrival at Guildhall Square I was greeted with a glass of champagne and the opportunity to mingle with fellow high-diners. Not surprisingly no one had done this before and the champagne seemed to be helping anxious nerves including mine.
We had the opportunity to look around the platform and I was pleased to see that we would be nicely strapped into our chairs. There was a roof, so even though the chance of rain that evening was minimal we would remain dry, unless it was sideways rain. Under one of the chairs a man was fiddling around with a spanner and I secretly was hoping that was not where I would be sitting.
Suddenly the time had come that we had to take our seats, get strapped in and meet our chef. Luckily for us it was the fabulous Luke Matthews, Executive Head Chef at Chewton Glen.
Luke had created a very sensible menu considering the logistics of serving 22 four course meals at 100ft up and without his normal brigade of chefs. To start with we had Citrus Cured Chalk Stream Trout, Devon Crab, Exmoor Caviar and Avocado. I was slightly concerned that the micro herbs may have blown away when we reached height.. they thought about it, so I ate the dish quickly.
This was followed by Quantock Duck Dartois, Spiced Apricot and Sloe Gin. For want of a better description, imagine the finest duck sausage roll. The pastry was crisp and the apricot complimented the duck nicely, the sauce was complex and brought the dish together.
For the main course we had Donald Russell Ox Cheek, Creamed Polenta, Ceps and Gremolata. Not only delicious, but a clever dish for the circumstances as it could be slowly braised prior, making it easier to plate at 100ft up on a platform.
We did have to descent briefly so they could serve the dessert and were greeted with a Valrhona Chocolate and Caramel Tart with Apple and Blackberry Purée.
The time went very quickly and we were soon back on our descent to terra firma. It was a different experience dining at 100ft whilst dangling from a crane. Safety was the priority, they had people on the ground monitoring everything. It didn’t rock and if the wind changed direction all that happened was the platform rotated to give you a different view. Not surprisingly the food was fantastic. A big thank you to Events in the Sky and Chewton Glen for a very memorable evening.
I dined as a guest of Events in the Sky but all editorial content is my own.