O. Noir

Dining in complete darkness

Eat, Toronto  /   /  By Annie

ONoirGrid

Does this black box make you feel a little funny? Imagine dining in complete darkness for an entire dinner. The concept for the restaurant began as a way for diners to experience food in a whole different way. Although I love taking photos of food, when the sense of sight is taken away, all the food that you experience is heightened greatly and you can taste the individual elements of a dish with a whole new level of clarity. It is a great way for diners to understand what it might like to be blind, especially when you are relying on your very capable wait staff to assist you throughout the meal—all of whom are blind themselves.

Despite the fact that the food is not ever seen, the quality of food is high. You order and pay for your meal in the lobby prior to going into the dining rooms. The menu is a flexible prix-fixe—you can have a starter, main and dessert for $39 or starter or dessert with main for $32. The menu includes items such as octopus, calamari, a variety of salads, filet mignon, shrimp with risotto, and a variety of standard desserts. But, for the more adventurous set, you can even order the “surprise” starter, main or dessert.  I did both last time, and I ordered the calamari for a starter with the surprise main. There is also a very extensive drink menu.

I have been to this restaurant twice now.

My first experience was nerve-wracking. I was with an old friend and two new ones, and we had no idea how to behave around each other or what to say. We politely sat there and asked each other what they were doing with their hands and how they were eating their bread rolls. It ended up becoming a great icebreaker (although I really don’t remember what they were wearing that day).

My second experience was hilarious. My sisters were in town and I dragged Andrea along for the ride. We tried to share dishes but it was a lot harder than normal. At one point, my little sister started choking on her own laughter as she proudly informed us she was eating the food mouth-to-plate. No one could prove it or stop her. 

As for the surprise dishes: I won’t tell you what I think I ate, but I will tell you that I had something similar both times. One thing I will say though: the difference between green, yellow, orange and red peppers seemed to matter a lot more to me a week ago in the grocery store than in my mouth.

Final Note: I truly feel that there is so much more that they could do with the menu than simply serving up basic French classics. Perhaps having a flight of appetizers to sample and guess, or perhaps having “surprise menus” that are actually surprises and not obvious. However, I still applaud them for doing what they do, and I’ll definitely go back again to accompany a tourist friend.

Location: 620 Church Street, Toronto (Church-Wellesley Village). There is also a location in Montreal.

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