Social Engagement: High
What’s What: Dine in a pitch-dark restaurant without knowing the details of the menu and be served by blind or visually impaired waiters. This sensory awareness experience will give you a first-hand glimpse into the lives of those who are blind. You’ll select from one of several meal categories, such as meat or vegetarian, but you’ll have no idea what you’ll actually be eating. Accommodations are made for food restrictions and allergies.
Amava Take: If eye appeal is half the meal, what happens if you can’t see the food you’re eating? Dark dining is based on the theory that flavors are intensified when people can’t see what’s on their plate. It turns out food tastes very different without visual cues. Flavors are enhanced and you’ll find that you’ll try foods you never thought to put on your culinary bucket list.
From the Front Lines:
Who would enjoy dining in the dark?
Foodies with unique culinary experiences on their bucket lists.
Any tips for first-timers?
Go with somebody you are at ease with, as the experience is highly intimate. Don’t wear your best clothes or anything that’s expensive to dry clean. Yes, you will likely end up wearing some of your meal.
What’s a typical meal like?
Valuables, including light-emitting cell phones and watches, are stored in lockers. You’ll be served a fixed price multi-course meal in complete darkness (or wearing night vision goggles, depending on the venue) and sit at communal tables. Blind or visually impaired waiters will guide you through the experience and help ease the awkwardness of finding your fork and pouring your wine.
From the Trenches:
What’s the most satisfying part of the experience?
Riding the range of emotions from apprehension and fear to utter amazement, enjoyment and gratitude. It ended up being so much more than a culinary event.
What surprised you the most?
How unsettling it was initially and then how enjoyable. Not being able to see was at first quite alarming but that vulnerability is part of the experience. Sitting at communal tables in the dark with strangers was also unnerving at first.
What would you tell someone who is thinking about doing this?
Don’t overthink it, go with an open mind and bring a dining companion you’re very comfortable with. Don’t be surprised when the chicken you think you’re eating turns out to be a sea urchin!
Special Requirements: You should have a versatile palate and not be afraid of the dark.
Finding a Place: The Blind Cafe holds dining in the dark events at different locations throughout the year and even travels to host corporate team building events. Dans Le Noir has over a dozen locations worldwide. Opaque has a location in Santa Monica and another opening in San Francisco. Dine Blackout is in Las Vegas. This article on iExplore reviews several venues abroad and this article in the Psychologist explains the psychology of it all.