Ottawa Sky Lounge do’s and don’ts: Bring the camera, forget the purse

When you’re going out for dinner on a platform dangling 150 feet (46 metres) above Marion Dewar Plaza, you might not want to wear a dress.

You would think this would be self-evident, but I obviously didn’t think things through before hopping on the bus and heading to the Sky Lounge last Saturday night. My thought process went something like this: This is a once-in-a-lifetime event, the tickets aren’t cheap and it’s a Saturday night, so I should probably dress up.

Sky Lounge aloft on Marion Dewar Plaza at Ottawa City Hall.

When I arrived at Ottawa City Hall, the Sky Lounge was already aloft, hosting an earlier group.

Fortunately, it was a maxi dress, minimizing the risk of any wind-related clothing malfunctions à la Marilyn Monroe in The Seven-Year Itch. However, the garment gave the poor guy attempting to strap me into my racecar-style seat a bit of pause. You see, one of the three seat belts had to come up between my feet and clip into the belt strapped across my waist. We had a good laugh and managed it, but I wished I’d worn capris. (Fortunately, I don’t own stilettos, which would have also posed a hazard when getting on and off the platform.)

Below the Sky Lounge in Ottawa.

Here’s what the Sky Lounge looks like from below.

Sky Lounge on ground in front of Ottawa City Hall.

And here’s how it looks on the ground, being prepared for liftoff.

I think it’s probably safe to assume that few of us have much experience with dining in the sky. So, as a public service, let me present my do’s and don’ts for a night at Ottawa’s Sky Lounge, which will be hanging from a crane in front of Ottawa City Hall until Saturday, July 22, as part of the city’s Ottawa 2017 celebrations.

View of Parliament Hill from the Sky Lounge.

Check out the view!

Do bring your camera and/or smartphone. The views of Parliament Hill and the Rideau Canal from up there are amazing. A strap would also be a very good idea.

Don’t bring a big purse. The bottom of the platform is partly open, so you’ll have to put your bag beside on you the dining table, and there’s not much room there, either.

Chefs in Sky Lounge, Ottawa.

Can you imagine trying to feed 22 people while dangling 150 feet above the ground? I guess it’s a bit like working on an airplane…with a breeze.

Do come about half an hour before your scheduled “liftoff.” It’s fun to watch the cocktail party group ahead of you being hoisted up and down, and you can enjoy wine and hors d’oeuvres (bannock bread with spruce-and-lemon butter) as you wait.

Don’t try it if you’re afraid of heights. There’s a roof on the dining platform, but the sides and much of the floor are open to the wind. If you’re terrified, it will truly be hard to enjoy the meal. Which brings me to….

Arctic char on the Sky Lounge in Ottawa.

The Arctic char course was my favourite.

Do bring your appetite. The three-course, all-Canadian menu from Feast + Revel (the restaurant in the Andaz Hotel) isn’t huge, but it is filling and delicious. We started with Labrador tea-cured Arctic char with fennel flowers, sorrel, pickled pearl onions and cedar crème fraiche on a toasted Montreal bagel chip, which was my favourite course.

Next came braised beef with apple cider-glazed carrots. This dish, served atop of a potato slice, was supposed to be an upscale take on poutine. I don’t think that quite came across, but the beef was juicy and fork tender. Dessert was a flaky, maple-scented butter tart with whisky-soaked raisins, and it made a lovely finish.

Butter tart with whisky-soaked raisins.

Mmmm…butter tarts….

Don’t spend too long taking photos. The whole dinner takes about an hour from liftoff to landing, so it’s not a drawn-out meal. The chefs/servers don’t exactly hustle you along, but it’s clear there’s not a lot of time to dally.

Do be prepared to sing. There’s a lively Can Con soundtrack, and after a few glasses of wine, we were all belting out the words to “Summer of ’69” as the platform slowly descended to the ground. The chefs—who were great sports and a ton of fun—egged us on by passing out funny hats, blowing on air horns and cranking up the sound system.

The dusk cocktail party Sky Lounge just before liftoff.

The dusk cocktail party Sky Lounge just before liftoff.

Don’t procrastinate if you haven’t bought your tickets yet. Even though they are $250 a pop, they’re selling smartly. If you want the view with a somewhat smaller price tag, you could try the cocktail party option (still a splurge at $150 a ticket).

Sky Lounge liftoff at dusk.

The dusk cocktail party crowd takes to the sky.

Disclosure: I had dinner in the Sky Lounge as a guest of Ottawa Tourism, which neither reviewed nor approved this post.

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2 Responses to Ottawa Sky Lounge do’s and don’ts: Bring the camera, forget the purse

  1. Shelly Rivoli July 12, 2017 at 7:11 pm #

    I got to do this in Puerto Vallarta–so much fun! Great tips.

    • Laura Byrne Paquet July 12, 2017 at 7:53 pm #

      Thanks, Shelly! It’s a crazy experience, but I’m really glad I did it.

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