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A five-course-meal at 160 feet in the air with Cloud Dining in Hyderabad

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The city’s first restaurant-in-the-sky promises night-time panoramas of Hitec City and a five-course-meal curated by former Masterchef contestant chef Ripu Daman Handa. But what about weather issues, safety and a fuss-free menu?

One hundred and sixty feet in the air is no joke. There’s a distinct chill in the wind, the kind that bites in November and December.

But the view, level with the eighth floor of a nearby building, is pretty. The strip of Hitec City Road curving around Shilparamam Cultural Centre flashes with irate commuters eager to get home. Late-night workers’ offices emanate a glow through the mesh-like structure of Cyber Towers. The nearby flyover, brought to colourful life by artist Delphine Delas, resembles a ribbon.

Other sky-high ventures
  • Before Cloud Dining launched, other cable-suspended dining experiences around the country have come and conquered; Fly Dining have one in Bengaluru’s Nagavara, offering diners bird’s-eye-views of the lake, Manyata Techpark — nesting grounds for Nvidia, Rolls Royce and Nokia — and the city’s green cover. The company also has one in Noida at Gardens Galleria Mall.
  • Founder Nikhil Kumar was inspired by a similar experience while on a visit to Dubai. He explains that development and training took two years to perfect the safety and to ensure customers get a memorable experience. Fly Dining has offices in Germany, where rigorous training took place.

This is the view from one’s strapped-in position at Dinner In The Clouds by Cloud Dining. The team behind this project comprises managing director Devi Dutt Koli as well as directors Tarun Koli and Gurdeep Singh. Dinner In The Clouds took its first official ascent on November 1, thankfully after the rainy season closed off.

There are three dinner sessions in the sky every day now, each lasting for about 45 minutes (plus preparations for the experience). Starting at 6:30 pm, they run up till 11:30 pm. One week into business and the next few days are predictably crammed.

Head out of the clouds

An industry-standard hydraulic crane lifts the 26-seater table into the air slowly in just three minutes which one barely feels, but those squeamish about heights best sit this one out. After the initial excitement wears off, there is the barrage of real-talk questions: ‘What if it starts raining?’, ‘What about mosquitoes?’, ‘What if I need a bathroom break?’ or ‘What if I drop my phone?’

Let’s talk structure. After all, one is expected to place unconditional trust in this cable-suspended table and happily indulge in a lengthy meal without the worry of suddenly plummeting. Tarun shares that the safety certifications for the structure are all GHMC-approved, and that a safety instructor is always on hand to provide information and to check that the fastenings are secure.

Inspections are always thorough, he assures, and peace of mind is the key here, for everyone. Seats, which resemble hardcore gaming and motoring ones, come with secure straps and buckles but the seats do spin 360 degrees horizontally to allow a diner to see the view for which they paid a pretty penny.

Additionally, the suspended table has a protective canopy. Cloud Dining does offer the experience to wheelchair users and people with mild disabilities but they ask diners to write to them prior to buying a seat so that their safety officer can advise where needed. Pregnant women are not permitted.

A five-course-meal at 160 feet in the air with Cloud Dining in Hyderabad

According to the website, anyone over the age of 13 with a minimum height of 143 centimetres (just over four and a half feet) and a maximum weight of 150 kilograms. For diners under the age of 18, the presence and a signed indemnity form from a parent or legal guardian is required.

Tarun says there is a restroom break halfway through, but if you request for one outside of the allotted time, the table will be brought down but you won’t be let back on, with no refund. When there is poor weather and, typically, a wind speed of more than 24 kilometres per hour, the table is lowered by 20 feet intervals, says Tarun.

There’s nothing more awkward than being suspended mid-air to the sounds of angry vehicles and screeching bats zipping through the darkening skies so the Dinner In The Clouds muffles that up with music.

Servers, too, are in the space at the centre of the table with their own harnesses for safety, all while making sure you have a hearty experience.

Dine on cloud nine

As the name indicates, a multi-course meal is part of the package. The man behind the menu is chef Ripu Daman Handa, of Masterchef India season three fame. The 29-year-old has made sure the menu is eclectic enough for the high skies but also not too fussy so people have equal measures of good taste and good views — a fun way to dip into adventure dining.

A five-course-meal at 160 feet in the air with Cloud Dining in Hyderabad

The five-course-meal is brought out on two plates so it does not take up too much table-space. Many opt for the curried chicken and rice entrée coupled with the kebabs-style appetisers. The food could have been an ode to Hyderabadi cuisine but Cloud Dining missed this opportunity and serves up average food which gets cold in just a couple of minutes after going up. For those too scared to go up that high or for those who cannot easily fork over ₹5k, a ground-level buffet with close to 50 dishes across various cuisines is a lesser alternative.

Unfortunately, the grounds below are not developed, which have proven to be a worry for the dengue-high season triggered by water-logging. So do slather on the repellent and wear closed garments to ward off hostile winds and pesky critters.

The Dinner In The Clouds experience costs ₹4,999 per person on a weekday and ₹5,500 on a weekend. The on-ground buffet costs ₹499 per person. For more details, Cloud Dining Hyderabad can be reached at 9154026385 or through the official website at clouddining.in.

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Printable version | Dec 12, 2019 2:19:14 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/food/cloud-dining-hyderabad-kebabs-at-160-feet/article29908911.ece

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