Stellar views and delicious food are on the menu of this new establishment in the Queensland capital.
It's the first time I've ever worn a safety harness to dinner. Or been breathalysed before being shown to my table. Brisbane's Powerhouse, a monolithic art space in a former power station, between the river and New Farm Park, is the home of a new and very niche dining experience - Vertigo. It was conceived during COVID-19 by tourism operator and New Farm local John Sharpe, who also introduced the Kangaroo Point Rock Climb and Story Bridge Climb to the city. "I was out running past the Powerhouse and chanced to look up at the roof, and I thought, wow, wouldn't it be great to have an al fresco dining space up there?" Sharpe says.
Safety compliance companies, engineers, hydraulics experts and builders were engaged to bring this radical vision to life, with the country's first "vertical" restaurant opening in October last year.
The evening of our booking is perfectly balmy, with not a hint of previous day's rain. After a safety briefing and breath test (diners are required to register zero alcohol) staff help us into our harnesses and we are led to an internal staircase and ascend a couple of floors, where a door opens onto the roof. Outside, we climb a short ladder to reach a steel-framed catwalk and are handed over to our waiter/safety expert Ryan, who connects us to the platform via two anchor points then instructs us to sit on the platform's edge with our legs dangling over the void. A hydraulic lift lowers the platform to the table and we swivel around to face each other. Below is a sheer, 18-metre drop and between my feet, resting on a metal footrest, I can see people walking below.
The view is spectacular, with the stately jacaranda trees and the twinkling lights of the city in front, the river at our back, and eventually, I start to relax and release my death grip on the platform's side.
I was out running past the Powerhouse ... and I thought, wow, wouldn't it be great to have an al fresco dining space up there?
Vertigo's menu is a set three courses, the food coming from the highly regarded kitchen of Bar Alto at the Powerhouse. The first is a creamy burrata on heirloom tomatoes with aged balsamic, followed by a saffron-scented seafood brodetto, with Moreton Bay bug, local prawns, calamari and mussels in a tomatoe-y broth we mop up with sourdough. By the time dessert arrives, I've almost forgotten where I am, and am enjoying this unique view of Brisbane and the gentle breeze coming off the river.
Just as we finish the last of our dessert - a glossyrectangle of bitter chocolate with hazelnut biscotti - a bell rings and, at the end of the platform, a diner launches off and rappels rapidly down the facade of the Powerhouse, among much whooping and clapping from the crowd. This is optional, but apparently popular.
Having pushed through my mild acrophobia, I take the stairs, but despite chickening out, I'm still awarded a glass of celebratory bubbles back on the ground.
What: The dining experience at Vertigo runs Thursday to Saturday, $250 per person, including dinner, a glass of wine, the descent and a drink post-descent.
Explore more: vertigobrisbane.com.au
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