What's the next best alternative to inflight dining on a grounded plane, a la Singapore Airlines's (SIA) limited, sold-out run of Restaurant 380? Dining in the air 100m above ground in a cable car.
Enter KrisFlyer Experiences, which is offering the First Class dining experience for two while you "fly" through the skies in a cable car this November and December.
And yes, this is possibly the closest you can get now to flying while having an SIA inflight meal, sans the reclinable airplane seats and the KrisWorld entertainment system.
Given that I'm usually in economy class and have yet to fly this year given all the disruptions, this experience of enjoying the First Class Dining mid-air was much welcomed.
What to expect
The "flight" for the evening starts at Faber Peak Singapore, where we were welcomed at Dusk Restaurant & Bar with a nitrofrost passionfruit martini (Dusk's signature), and chicken and Impossible meat satay (SIA's signature).
The latter is the one item that's always raved about and my portion came with hefty pieces of meat on the skewer and plated with a generous heaping of sauce.
It was a great way to start the evening, with a view of the cable cars that would be ferrying us and our meal, against a sunset-hued sky. Though they were not around when I was there, SIA stewardesses would be present to welcome guests before they take flight for the later KrisFlyer experiences.
Boarding started at 6.30pm and we were ushered to the cable car entrance. Unlike the Restaurant 380 experience, no passports are required and no X-rays of our belongings. We simply waited in line till our assigned cabin arrived.
Our travel itinerary for the evening's flight and meal is as such: Three round trips from Mount Faber station to Sentosa station that lasts for 30 minutes each. That's an hour and a half inside the cabin, without any washroom breaks.
You enter the cabin with your appetiser, a bread basket and wine waiting for you. The first time back, you will be served your main course, and for the final round trip, your dessert with a cheese and fruit platter.
When booking the experience, you'll have to decide between a French, Australian or Japanese dining experience for two, similar to the options for the SIA@Home First Class meals.
That evening I had the pleasure of trying the First Class menu by three-star Michelin chef, Georges Blanc. The meals are prepared by the chefs from SIA on the same day and delivered to Faber Peak, where One Faber Group staff will prepare the food for service.
The First Class cable car dining experience
Our designated cable car arrives and the boarding is swift with just two people per cabin. We are rewarded with a pretty impressive view of the Sentosa skyline set against a navy blue sky.
"It's more stable than I thought it would be," said my dining companion. Even as we traverse the sky, everything in the cable car stays perfectly in place. The only disturbance we get is the "turbulence" every time the carriage passes through a station.
It's probably a good thing that the first dish is pretty light as we got busy taking in the lit-up evening scene in front of us. It was only until our carriage had reached Sentosa station and made a U-turn back to the start that we realised that we should start eating.
My appetiser is a poached lobster with vegetables, parmesan and pesto, and it is cooked perfectly as the meat is moist and succulent. I make good time and manage to also scarf down a piece of the much-talked about SIA garlic bread.
The timing they gave us is pretty accurate too, as 30 minutes later, we were back at Mount Faber station to be served our next dish.
Here's where the precision of the service staff comes into play. The window of time that they have to collect the finished dishes and serve us our next course is just 14 seconds. But it was evident that they were well-versed in the process. In and out of the cabin they went, and in a flash, my beef short rib main course was in front of me.
The meat was pull-apart tender and melted in the mouth. Not needing to use anything other than a fork, it definitely made dining in the somewhat dimly lit cabin much easier since it was much darker when we took off from Mount Faber for the second time.
Time passed much quicker than I thought it would, and before I knew it, it was time for the final trip from Mount Faber. This time, we were each given three plates — one cheese platter, one fruit platter and a pink praline tart with white cheese mousse.
It was a lot of food for the last 30 minutes of our dining experience and try as I might, I was unable to finish all the food and barely even touched the cheese platter. I'm not the only one though, I'm informed after disembarking.
I did manage to eat my way through my tart that was just the right balance of sweet and sour flavours and also a substantial portion of the fruit platter.
Did my evening experience replicate what it's like to dine in a plane while midway to my travel destination? Not quite, even with the "turbulence" I experienced mid-flight.
It is however, a novel experience and one that someone who Is considering purchasing one of the SIA@Home First Class meals might want to go for instead.
You are served pretty much the same meal, save for one dish and fewer options for the mains. However, in the cable car, there's no need to deal with takeaway boxes and plating as you'll be served the entire meal in the First Class Wedgwood bone china dinnerware.
Keen on trying this? There is one catch — it's an experience that is only available through the redemption of KrisFlyer miles, for now. Upwards of 65,000 miles to be exact, for the First Class experience for two. The SIA@Home equivalent is available for $479.36, including GST, or 59,920 miles.
If you don't have the miles to spare but would still like a taste of dining while elevated in the air, you can book the Fly Me to Italy, four-course dining experience that commences from December for $328++ per couple or one of the other cable car dining experiences the Singapore Cable Car offers.