Close your eyes. Imagine everything you were just looking at disappears and you’re left in complete darkness. This is the experience you get at Dark Table, which offers its guests a truly unique blind dining experience that has been increasingly popular in cities like Montreal, Toronto, London, Paris, L.A. and New York. I recently got a group of friends together to try out this new restaurant, which opened last fall in Vancouver. According to their website, “with an unemployment rate of 70%, the blind face obvious challenges in a society that is preoccupied with visual communication, but in a dark dining environment, the tables are turned—the non-sighted servers guide the sighted.”
When we arrived at the restaurant, the hostess greeted us at the door. She provided us with menus and we made our selection before even entering the building. There are 2 course and 3 course options ($33/$39). The appy and dessert are always a surprise, and you have the option of choosing to be surprised for your main course as well.
After placing our order, we were brought into a small room with very dim lighting where our server, who is actually blind, explains how things will work moving forward. After single filing our way in COMPLETE DARKNESS to our table and having a seat, I began to understand and realize just what I had gotten myself into. I really have to stress that I’m not talking about a dimly lit restaurant, or a restaurant with curtains over the windows. The windows are blacked out. There is NO light. You are asked to turn off your cellphone. I honestly couldn’t see my hand in front of my face.
When our food arrived at the table, all I could do was smell it. I think it’s true that when one of your senses go, the others are heightened because the food smelled amazing and it later became very easy to pinpoint where my friends were just by the sound of their voice (there was 9 of us, it was a bit confusing at first.) Also, because no one had their cell phones, I think we had more conversation at this meal than any before. Everyone was actively engaged, listening and participating in conversation, which I found really enjoyable.
Because our server was blind, and at the moment so were we, we actually had to call her over to the table quite loudly. I felt a bit rude at first, but I got used to it.
After finally finishing our meal, with only one little spill and a couple dirty hands, we were lead to the paying area, which is dimly lit, and then to the exit. As you can imagine, the experience is a touch longer than your normal dinner out, but well worth it. If you have a restaurant near you that offers this unique experience, it’s a definite must try… at least once!