At Toronto's brand-new O.Noir restaurant, customers dine in pitch-black darkness.
I have dined in total darkness – and survived.
When I first enter the pitch-black dining room, however, feelings of disorientation and claustrophobia overwhelm me.
“I can’t do this,” I think to myself. But after a few minutes, the mild panic passes and I embrace the dark.
This fun ‘n’ fascinating dinner unfolded at the Toronto location of Montreal’s O.Noir restaurant, launched June 24 in the Town Inn Suites, at Church and Charles Streets.
Customers begin their evening in the fully-lit lounge area, where they order their meal (two courses, $32; three courses, $39) and drinks.
Then the server arrives, introduces himself and carefully leads guests into the inky-black dining room.
All of O.Noir’s servers are blind and negotiate the dark room to bring food to your table and, with your help, set it down in front of you.
Although the food wasn’t fancy – grilled portobello mushroom on greens; chicken breast with eggplant; fruit sorbet – it tasted unusually good: Since we eat with our eyes, removing the distraction of visual stimuli allows the sense of taste to focus on flavours and textures.
As you might expect, eating was a bit awkward, but manageable.
With some fumbling around, I managed to eat most of each app and main with my knife and fork, but then used my fingers to scoop up the last remaining bits. Eating the sorbet with a spoon was dead easy.
Interestingly, diners lose their inhibitions in the dark and talk far louder than normal, creating a convivial din.
O.Noir’s three rooms (two seat 40 each and one seats 20) are available for incentive group buyouts. It opens for lunch, but only for groups of 15 or more. Most unique business meeting venue ever!
In 1999, Jorge Spielmann, a blind pastor in Zurich, founded dining-in-the-dark, to teach the sighted about life in a sightless world.
For more info, visit their site