What It’s Like to Eat at the World’s Highest Restaurant
In a city with so many superlative restaurants with one-of-a-kind features, it’s hard to stand out; however, there is one restaurant that does – literally and gastronomically.
Located on the 122nd floor of the 2,716.5-foot, 160-story Burj Khalifa is At.mosphere, which holds the Guinness World Record for highest restaurant from ground level, while also being housed in the world’s tallest building. The view alone is worth the price of a meal.
The sleek and unpretentious dining room is awash in natural light during the day, thanks to a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows that afford vertigo-inducing views of some of Dubai’s most iconic places like the Dubai Fountain (the tallest performing fountain in the world), Palm Jumeirah (the world’s largest man-made island that resembles a palm tree), and currently-under-construction The Heart of Europe (part of “The World,” an ambitious 300-island archipelago) as well as the barren Arabian desert beyond the city-state limits.
Chef Jerome Lagarde and his team create modern French fusion fare in the main dining room, as well as bistronomy in the lounge that delights the eye (and countless Instagram accounts) and palate. Each dish is skillfully prepared with ingredients sourced from around the world, with a few that are exclusively grown only to be served at the restaurant. Even the artful porcelain plates the food is served on are made exclusively for At.mosphere by Bernardaud.
Drawing on more than two decades in Michelin-starred kitchens on three continents (Lagarde was head chef at Michelin-starred Jardin de l'Opera in Toulouse, France), Lagarde has created a menu that takes diners on a globetrotting gastronomic adventure, incorporating ingredients from five or more continents daily, like wasabi roots from Japan, wagyu beef from Australia, and the best artisanal goods from Dubai’s markets.
Guests who like dining with the ultimate view can make reservations for prix fixe lunch, afternoon tea, or dinner. Diners can also enjoy cocktails, afternoon high tea, an evening à la carte menu, and cigars with live musicians in the restaurant’s separate lounge (a violinist was playing during our afternoon visit).
There are several picture-perfect and refreshing signature cocktails to help visitors beat the desert heat, like the “Galaxy” (fresh mint, blood orange, ginger, limoncello, and pear vodka — click here for a version you can make at home) and the “442” (passion fruit, crushed kumquats, aged rum, and Grand Marnier).
During our recent AED600 ($163) three-course lunch — there is a lighter AED450 ($123) two-course option on offer too — we enjoyed a selection of savory bite-size petit fours and stand-out starters like hand-cut beef tartare, truffles, and oscietra caviar; and ratatouille with zucchini, capsicum, eggplant, and burrata. The mesmerizing mains included Patagonia black cod, venere risotto, and Parmesan; and wagyu flank with shallot confit and aligot (mashed potatoes with garlic and cheese) — all a prelude to divine desserts like zuccotto (a semi-frozen, chilled dessert made with brandy, cake, and ice cream) with hazelnut; and pineapple Victoria with lime panna cotta and coriander sorbet were a highlight.
The memorable meal was capped off with a complimentary selection of mignardises and petit fours, a souvenir black-and-white photo of the Burj Khalifa, and the requisite brag-worthy selfie with a backdrop of the half-mile view below. In a city with so many “must-see” destinations, At.mosphere is a must-eat for travelers who are serious about their food (and social media #foodporn).