Review: Newcastle in the Sky, until August 29

Strap yourself in, the term high tea just reached a whole new level - 100ft up, in fact.

For the next six days, diners with a head for heights - and a cast iron stomach - can tuck into sky high meals with the return of Newcastle in the Sky to Performance Square in Gateshead.

Newcastle in the Sky at Performance Square, Gateshead

Newcastle in the Sky at Performance Square, Gateshead

The concept of eating whilst dangling from a crane is definitely not everyone’s type on paper. But for those with an appetite for adventurous dining, it’s quite the spectacle.

On the night I visited - there are different guest chefs each day - our four course meal was prepared by Andrew Wilkinson, head chef at Artisan at Newcastle’s Biscuit Factory.

Cooking under these conditions is no mean feat for the men in whites, with little room for manoeuvre, literally, as they’re harnessed inside a central cooking space surrounded by the table.

After a safety briefing and a comfort break, as there’s no porta loo up there, we began the swift ascent.

Lindisfarne Oysters

Lindisfarne Oysters

Although you’re strapped into a padded seat that wouldn’t look out of place in Lightwater Valley, this is no rollercoaster ride. The weather was fairly still on our visit and you’re so securely strapped in, that you could forget you were up in the air - until you look down!

Swivel your chair around and the table offers a real bird’s eye view of the Tyne as it meanders under its famous bridges, as well as ant-like Geordies scurrying about and the shimmering roof of the Sage.

Though bags have to be checked into a locker, phones are allowed and we took a break from snapping the vista long enough to enjoy four courses.

First up was Lindisfarne Oysters, presented on crushed ice, and given extra depth of flavour with zingy blobs of apple, cucumber and horseradish.

View from the table

View from the table

The fish theme, which worked well when eating in the crisp air, continued with starters of crab salad. Again, it was locally-sourced from the North Sea, and was beautifully light and refreshing, with the delicate flakes of crab complemented by silky cubes of salmon, all punctuated with fennel and orange.

Lots of the prep is done beforehand, with finishing touches done in the central island, meaning there’s little delay between courses.

The next course was trickier to pull off in these conditions: keeping 22 Northumbrian lamb dishes warm can’t be easy. The chefs pulled it off, but make sure to eat up as food cools down quickly up there. Blush pink inside and beautifully tender, the lamb, which was served with vegetables and a potato puree, ended up being a triumph. All the more impressive considering the conditions the chefs are battling.

Half way through dinner and the table turns 180degrees so that everyone can enjoy the view from all angles. Just be careful with your iPhone, a slip of the finger and it will end the same way as an unattended lid from the kitchen, which plummeted to the drop zone after a gust of wind.

North Sea crab

North Sea crab

The meal came to an end with a perky pudding of vanilla poached pear with champagne, raspberries and pistachio for a bit of bite.

Wine, and champagne on arrival, is included in the price tag, which will set you back £150 for an evening meal - but is limited to a choice of white and red once you’re up there unless you take one of the evening cocktail flights. There’s a range of flights per day, starting with a breakfast option, which is slightly easier on the purse strings at £50.

After an hour, our feet were back on the ground, though it feels like you’re up there less than 60 minutes. Time flies.

If I wasn’t so full, and so far away from pay day, I would have gone up again.

It may sound like a pie in the sky idea, but if you got the stomach and the funds to fork out, it’s a meal to remember.

Northumbrian lamb

Northumbrian lamb

Views of the Tyne 100ft up

Views of the Tyne 100ft up

Chef Andrew Wilkinson preparing the starters

Chef Andrew Wilkinson preparing the starters

Pudding with a view

Pudding with a view