I can’t see Dubai from the eyes of a tourist, I think. It’s a conversation starter, my party trick…how long I’ve been in Dubai that is.
Right now, the count stands at 23 years. People look at me with a jolt when I say this, laugh and in an effort to be polite say, “So you were born here?” Not true. I was a little over two-years-old when my parents bundled me along with them to move from Bombay to Dubai.
But 1989 till 2012 has not been a slow ride; in fact, Dubai has changed so much. From two lanes on either side of Sheikh Zayed Road to 14 in total. Wow.
I grew up as the city did. So it’s mine. I’m not a tourist.
Which is probably why I’d never visited the Burj Khalifa. I read somewhere ages ago that many people in New York had never visited the Empire State Building. I never understood why until after the Burj Khalifa was built.
“I live here, I can go anytime,” seemed to be the most popular refrain.
And then June 2012 marked a double bonanza – I got to visit the building for work-related purposes first (I was on the 151st floor!), and then I went to Atmosphere for the high tea.
So I donned my tourist persona and off I went.
First bit of advice: don’t just show up there. Make a booking in advance so they have you on their list. Pass through barriers to the lift that zooms up 123 floors, ears popping, its occupants (including me) making exaggerated yawning faces or holding noses to pop ears.
When you arrive at the 123rd floor, there’s a staircase that swirls down to the 122nd floor, where you’re confronted with the main entrance of the restaurant.
A luxurious lounge awaits. Your feet go clickety-clack across the wooden floor, then sinks impossibly into the carpet. The seats are equally sink-worthy; I wondered if I had to hoist myself off in an undignified manner later on.
I was lucky enough to get a table with a view. It was slightly sandy that day, but what I could see was brilliant enough.
So what do you get for AED 290 per person (no alcohol)?
It starts off with a fruit refresher:
And then we start the very refined, nearly girly affair – there’s a curved tri-level platter placed in front of us. A Wagyu beef burger and an organic chicken and mushroom quiche in the middle, five finger sandwiches on the top, and a row of desserts at the bottom.
Sandwiches included: cucumber with cream cheese and caviar; organic salmon gravalax with horseradish mousse; Turkey ham with provolone cheese with mustard cress; marinated tomato with goat cheese crème and olive; and, truffle egg and chive sandwich.
The dessert platter was: 80% Valrhona chocolate éclair; hazelnut cake; violet cassis macaroon; lemon tart; and, pineapple savarin with coconut.
How was the food? Decent. I didn’t scream in delight and praise the food gods, but it wasn’t like I was rueing the money I spent. It was good food in an excellent atmosphere (pun not intended). I wisely realised that in addition to the food, the price encompassed the privilege of dining in the highest restaurant in the world.
After this platter has been demolished, scones, a variety of jams and cream is handed to us. These are unlimited, so scone away. I loved these though – I’ve always been a sucker for scones and with fresh jam and cream, and soft scones…I was a happy bunny.
So happy I think I took over 20 photographs just of the jam slowly dripping down the side of the scone onto the plate. I don’t think anyone really wants to see so many pictures of scones, so I’ll just post these!
Drinks are unlimited as well – we tried all three mocktails, and two teas. The staff is quite friendly, not intrusive at all thank goodness and up for suggesting teas they think we’d like.
It was an interesting experience, and one for tourists and residents alike. I do recommend people try out the high tea at least once. I know I’ll be going back – I want my Mum to experience it too!
It’s really cool though – the receipt they hand you at the end of the outing has a number stamped on the side. So if I’m right in making this assumption, then according to this, we were the 86,120th group to visit.