As I walked along Newcastle’s quayside, and looked over at the crane next to the Sage, Gateshead that would soon be hoisting 22 of us 100 foot in the air for dinner, I got the first flicker of panic. Is it safe? I’m not really scared of heights, and having been invited to try the Newcastle in the Sky event for dinner by Artisan I was really excited to go so this brief moment of doubt took me by surprise. Crossing the Millennium Bridge and looking back over to Newcastle, I couldn’t wait to see the city from a different perspective, but when walking past the table they were busy setting up, I couldn’t help but notice there was no floor, and we really would be hanging there, by a crane.
Walking up to the reception marquee, I bumped into one of the girls who had just done the earlier ‘flight’ as they call them, and with her reassurance that it was brilliant, and not scary at all, I trot off into the marquee to check in. I was handed a glass of champers from the girls who ticked me off their list, and checked my bag and coat in. They tried to give me token number 13, haha, not happening when I was about to be whinched up 100 feet! Swapping my token for a much luckier number I was content that I’d be safe.
The girls thought this was hilarious, and again reiterated that what I was about to embark on was perfectly safe and a lot of fun. Meeting up with some other girls, we were rounded up and taken down to the cornered off area to get strapped up at the table. Welcomed by the event host, he explained that the corner seats offer the best view, as the seats swivel round, but they aren’t for the faint hearted.
Deciding to throw myself into the experience I volunteered for one, and was taken to seat number 22, where the staff assisted with strapping me in to the big rollercoaster style seat. There are three straps, which wrap around your legs and across your chest, secured tightly behind you, before they push you right in up to the table. There’s a silver plate for your feet, but that’s literally it!
Sat around the big table, the chefs and host for the event were all in the centre, harnessed in and ready to serve. We were all poured a glass of wine, and the crane driver was given the thumbs up to start the ball rolling. We slowly started to move. It was a lot more stable than I expected, we weren’t swinging everywhere, and it wasn’t shaky at all. Deciding not to look directly down, the sprawling cityscape of Newcastle Upon Tyne began to emerge out before us the higher in the air we got.
Quite literally one of the best views you will ever get of the city, and on a clear, warm evening as the sun was lowering in the sky it was beautiful. No, not just the champagne talking.
The crane lifting you up is very smooth, I didn’t even notice when we came to a stop, and it wasn’t long before we were being served bread rolls, and lindisfarne oysters with apple, cucumber and horseradish. Having recently tried oysters again, and with the promise that these were excellent quality I threw it back. It was totally different to other oysters I’ve ate, a lot less like seawater and you could really taste the fruit.
Between courses, we all took photos of the view, as well as a few selfies, and if you follow me on Instagram you might have seen my story – the full video of it is at the end. The staff in the centre of the table, so the event host and the chefs and servers of the restaurants taking part, happily offer to take photos for you.
As I mentioned ours was dinner by Artisan, a restaurant that takes pride in sourcing its ingredients locally, something that was definitely reflected in our menu for the evening. After the Lindisfarne oysters appetiser we were served our starter. The North Sea crab salad, made up of crab, citrus cured salmon, fennel and orange. Being a big fan of seafood I loved it, it was very refreshing.
It was nearing 7pm by now, and the quayside below us was coming to life. There was a charity run happening along the river, and lights were starting to pop up, dotted along the Newcastle cityscape. One of my colleagues happened to be walking along the quayside at the time and took this photo of us, hanging above.
Before we began on our main courses, which were starting to be prepared in the centre, our table began to turn. Halfway through the experience, they do this so you can enjoy the opposite view, ensuring you see it all from both angles. I was now facing the setting sun behind the Tyne Bridge, and right next to the Millennium Bridge glowing bright white in the evening sun.
Getting brave, I swung my chair round to take some photos. It really was an incredible sight and we were so lucky that the evening sun over Newcastle came out just in time for our flight.
Our main course was served, Northumbrian lamb with mash, vegetables and gravy. It wasn’t piping hot, having been mostly prepared on the ground below, but it certainly wasn’t cold and the meat was perfect. I’m not the biggest fan of lamb but it was really delicious, and the portions were a good size. I’ve never been to Artisan before, but would absolutely like to visit to try the food in it’s ‘natural’ location.
By now I think we were all fully used to being suspended 100ft in the air. Looking down was no longer an issue, and even those who were the most nervous prior to the flight were turning their chairs round to get make the most of the view.
Desert was served, a vanilla poached peach, with champagne, raspberry and pistachio. Light and airy it rounded off the meal perfectly. As the last of our dishes were cleared away, we were told to enjoy a last glimpse of the view as they began to lower us back down behind the Sage.
Getting off and unstrapped, I noticed how much warmer it was back down on the ground, but also the feeling was similar to that of getting off the best rollercoaster you’ve been on – a luxury one though. It was a totally thrilling experience, and one you wanted to do straight away again. I was immediately jealous of all the people in the reception tent waiting for their turn to go up for evening cocktails.
Events like this aren’t cheap, and over the course of the bank holiday, up until Tuesday there are a number of different local restaurants taking part. There’s everything from breakfast, lunch, dinner, evening cocktails, BBQ, and afternoon tea on offer, by restaurants such as Six, Aveika, Browns, The Vermont, Artisan and The Gin Bar. The cheapest tickets available are £50, and go up to £150 which was the value of our Artisan experience. Full details can be found on the Newcastle in the Sky website.
My opinion is that the experience is completely worth the money, so much so that the food is perhaps less of an importance, so if you were to ever do this, consider that when you choose which sitting to go for. I was lucky enough to be invited, and received the experience complimentary, but I do think it was worth the ticket price.
If I were to do it in future, which I absolutely would then I think I would try the afternoon tea, cocktails or lunch option next time. If a fear of heights puts you off, then I promise this is something you will quickly conquer too, and if you’re a local what better way to see your city than this?
My Instagram story from the event:
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