Recently, I had the unique experience of dining in the dark. Utter and complete blackness. The concept of this dining experience is to provide insight to the guests as to what it’s like for the millions of people living with blindness to maneuver through such an overlooked task as going out for dinner, and also offering a true sense of what it’s like to have to rely on the other senses to take over. Unlike any other, but certainly an appreciated adventure.
Upon arriving, we were greeted by a hostess and directed to a locker where we put our jackets, purse, phones and Fitbit (mine lights up). The menu is composed of 4-courses; some courses have options, and others are surprises! (You are able to indicate any allergies or special food requests, phew!) The hostess takes your food and beverage order, and you’ve got a few minutes to snap a selfie and check-in on Facebook.
Next, the hostess introduced us to our waiter. He entered the lobby from behind a heavy black curtain, extending his hand to introduce himself and shared with us that all the serving staff are visually impaired. It was explained that we would enter the dining-room behind 2-sets of very heavy curtains, the room would be pitch black, and we would make a train by placing our right-hand on the shoulder in-front of us – oh and put this black blindfold on just to ensure you really can’t see a thing.
The first thing I noticed was the loud chatter of conversations in the room. Although I had and still have no idea how big the dining-room was, I know it was busy just by how loud it was! It was the strangest feeling; part of me felt claustrophobic, I didn’t want to extend my arms out too far from me for not having any idea who or what I would touch – very, very humbling and enlightening.
Our waiter did a fair job of announcing when he was setting our appetizer, dinner, dessert, etc. down, although there were still many instances where I was patting around the table top trying to find something.
The food piece is where I really got stuck, and I am a foodie – I thoroughly enjoy eating. I struggled to wrap my head around the enjoyment of the food, because I ultimately had no idea what was in front of me, nor exactly what I was eating. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that it didn’t taste good, for me it was a realization of how much I rely of my sense of sight…even when eating.
My favorite part to come out of the evening was the conversation and level of engagement I had with my dinner date. There were not the same distractions that take me out of the socialization piece – no people watching or glancing at my phone to check the score on the Oilers game.
Would I go again? Not any time soon if I am being honest. Would I encourage someone else to go? Absolutely! It’s an experience, it’s outside of most comfort zones, and it absolutely puts the appreciation of sight into perspective.
For more info and to make a reservation, check out the Calgary location of the Dark Table Restaurant here.