It is a somewhat surreal experience – dining in the sky.
Here I am hanging in the air – tightly strapped into a rollercoaster chair – at a huge dinner table, on a platform elevated 100 feet above Princes Street Gardens in the Scottish capital by a mighty yellow crane.
The wind is whistling through my hair, carrying odd bits of salad and the occasional napkin from fellow diner’s plates on the breeze. This is some restaurant.
I am surrounded by the architecturally distinct skyscape that is Edinburgh, right before the craggy façade of the ancient castle. I am sipping champagne, eating smoked salmon, pan-fried pigeon breast and a celeriac coleslaw – a rare treat.
Initially I have to admit I am scared. My digestive system takes a minute or two to settle. It is on a kind of spin-cycle washing machine churn, as the crane takes the ground away from us.
And then we settle above the gardens. Nobody vomits, stomach acid neutralizes, blood pressure evens out nicely. The feeling that everyone gets at great heights that they might just take an uncharacteristic plunge diminishes. Chef, Gary Maclean, from Scotland’s distinguished Cook School, gives us a unique and very informative culinary lesson and the colour rapidly returns to our cheeks.
We can now savour this spectacular Fringe feast. And I learn a few interesting tips too, like how important it is to let pigeon and other game rest before serving and how tougher joints of meat can be more flavoursome. Apparently this is true at sea level also.
There is more to the menu too, though I am already replete; vegetable terrine, houmous, baba ganoush, leaf summer salad – most stayed put as the wind got up.
At first I thought I was on some gimmicky fairground ride, which, with prices starting at £17.50 for "Bubbles in the Sky" only, some might have found fairly excessive. But by the end along with the rich beef glaze and blackcurrent puree sauce Gary rustles up, I am relishing my most palatable Fringe experience.
This is no cheap side-stall fair- ground show but a real class act.
Until 31 August, 10am-10pm