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“Quite an experience!”
Review of O.Noir

O.Noir
Ranked #296 of 8,516 Restaurants in Toronto
Cuisines: Canadian
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Dining options: Late Night, Reservations
Neighborhood: Downtown
Description: ONoir, a unique restaurant based on Dine-in-the-dark concept and featuring vision-impaired servers.
Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
15 reviews
3 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
“Quite an experience!”
Reviewed February 20, 2012

Never having been to O.Noir before or any restaurant that offered a dine-in-the-dark experience, I was pretty intrigued when I was invited to go there for a friend's birthday celebration. We were given the menus beforehand. The selection was pretty good with the regular appetizers, main and dessert, but not anything extraordinary- after all, the whole point of the restaurant is the actual experience. However, one of their trademarks was the 'surprise menu' ($39 for appetizer/main/dessert), which meant that you did not know what you will get and would have to use your taste buds to figure out each meal. I chose that and was impressed. If you didn't want to be surprised, then you could choose from a wide selection of dishes such as chicken, seafood, vegetarian.

After everybody chose what they wanted, we were told to line up before the entrance, in a single file and place our hand onto the front person's shoulder and basically do the choo-choo train. A waiter (who was blind- this being another unique aspect of the restaurant) led us into a completely dark room, where we all somehow managed to be seated without really bumping into anything. The first feeling you get is 'I can't see ANYTHING! OH MY GOSH. It's like....closing your eyes but not closing them. It's like....being blind. Ahh!' Because the room is absolutely pitch black!

Our food arrived shortly, the waiter bringing each meal in one-by-one and asking who had ordered what. The automatic reflex in all of us at first was to raise our hand and say 'oh, that would be mine' but then you realize that you are in pitch darkness and the waiter only has his hearing to tell where you are sitting. He did this very well, I was beyond impressed.

With the conversations going while eating our food, it seemed that even though our vision was gone, so to speak, our other senses suddenly heightened. Suddenly, you could hear exactly what someone across the table was whispering; the food tasted slightly different, even though it was pretty generic like chicken, veggies and rice and you quickly figured out where everything was (your glass of water, napkin, fork), without having to see it. It was really cool!

All in all, O. Noir was a great experience and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to break out of the regular dining routine and experience something new and unique. It becomes a great conversation place where you connect with your friends and/or family without actually seeing them, and you learn to appreciate what you have and admire those people who live like this every single day of their life.

Service was friendly, the food was fine, and the atmosphere was genuinely pleasant.

  • Visited December 2011
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank Liz155019
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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353 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Greek first
  • Japanese first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Toronto
Level Contributor
71 reviews
37 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 71 helpful votes
“Fun Social Project”
Reviewed February 12, 2012

O.Noir is more of a social project than a restaurant. The food - in my mind, what restaurants ought to focus on most - is okay. Tasty enough, but not gourmet fare. Maybe the restaurant's claim is true, that when you eat without sight, your other senses are enhanced so you taste the food more. The food is well prepared and simple enough that I found I always knew what I was eating, even when I stole from others' plates without knowing what they ordered.

You go to O.Noir for the experience and fun of eating in the dark, not for the culinary skills of the kitchen. Staff is pleasant. On arrival, you are given a menu and you chose your meal. You are asked to turn off your cell and other handheld devices and remove watches that glow in the dark.

You are then led into one of the dining rooms and a blind server tends to several tables in the room, bringing each table the courses ordered. The resto has several dining rooms, each one is looked after by a blind server. But I think some servers are actually sighted but they wear dark glasses when they are serving. And sighted or not, once you are in one of the dining rooms, makes no difference whether you have your eyes open or shut. You really can't see a thing.

On entering the dining room, I felt disoriented. I wanted to know whether we were at a long table or round table, I wanted to know where the other diners were. After a while, you begin to sense where things are, where people are seated, where the server is. Voices and people's movements become your guide and orientation. The server hands you your food by asking you to reach out and you grope in mid air till you touch the plate the server is holding out for you. I noted that nothing is served too hot so no one gets burned.

The experience lasts about two hours. I felt a great sense of calm. I plugged up my ears and felt my core being. I wanted to stay in the room longer. It's great fun. Bring a sweater though. I found the dining room and washroom cold.

  • Visited February 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank TrippingAllOver
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto
Level Contributor
17 reviews
16 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“Unique but one time experience”
Reviewed January 21, 2012

This is the one if you are looking for a unique dining experience.......food is not bad and price is very reasonable....went with five or six friends for a birthday outing and everyone enjoys it. Lots of excitement and fun due to unknown. The surprise dish on the menu is a good option since surprise is a key element of the experience. However will probably not return as it is one those experiences that is a one-timer.

  • Visited March 2011
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank walleva
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
ontario, canada
Level Contributor
261 reviews
97 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 142 helpful votes
“A Sensory Experience!”
Reviewed January 7, 2012

A must 'see'. Or not.

The food was delicious. There is only one vegetarian entrée (which was great) otherwise I would have chosen the surprise me option on the menu.

The experience of dining in the dark was incredible. You really get no inkling of light whatsoever, don't think your eyes will acclimatize or that you will see shadows... there is nothing you will see.

  • Visited March 2011
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank chrsms
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
1 review
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“A Blind Adventure!”
Reviewed January 2, 2012

Although we had our GPS on hand, with the correct address O.Noir had provided on their website, we spent quite a number of minutes trying to find this restaurant. I am not saying it was hard to find, nor that the address was incorrect, but we were more than surprised when we realized the dark and dreary-looking steps which we were standing in front of was actually the entrance to O.Noir. If there wasn't a sign which said "O.Noir" I would have quickly walked away from what I literally thought was Frankenstein's laboratory!

The lighting was dim in every-room you when into, from the bar to the lounge to the black-tiled bathrooms. We quickly made our way over to the lounge to read our menu, that had been provided in the waiting area by the bar. My anxiety from the decor began to diminish as I imagined the fine, delicious French-Canadian cuisine I had read about in the reviews.

I had chosen "Octopus with Arugula, Olive Oil and Lemon" as a starter, "5 Spice Filet Mignon with a side of Potatoes and Vegetables" and Coke to drink. The others I was with had also chosen the Filet Mignon as the main meal, Portobello Mushrooms as a starter, Shrimp and a "Surprise Dessert".

Moments after ordering, we were brought over to one of the 6 dark rooms that were tightly shut so that no amount of light would be able to enter into the rooms. We were introduced to Diana, a blind waitress, who began to explain the itinerary for that evening as well as the rules. My anxiety began to rise again. I clinched my teeth as we were lead into a single file through the two doors. Suddenly, I felt the second door slam onto my face (I worn all you fellow review-readers to not to be the last in the line). As a natural reaction of fear, I let out a loud scream, but was instantly told to "take a deep breath and calm down as it will only agitate your anxiety".

My eyes attempted to adjust to the darkness, with no success. I could not tell how big the room was nor how many others where sharing it with us. Considering it was an overwhelming experience and the fact that it was New Year's Eve, you could only imagine how noisy it was in these rooms; people where laughing, violently clinging their cutlery on their plates in attempt to scavenge for their meals, whining, talking loudly, etc. I was later told that there were 6 different dark rooms, all of different sizes, with on average of 15 tables of 2, 4 & 6 persons. Making a total of more than 100 tables in the entire restaurant.

After begin instructed to where our seats, knife, fork, napkin, bread plate and butter was located, Diana polity walked away to give us some time to explore our surroundings and speak of our blind adventure so far. We were seated beside a stucco-type wall, with wooden support beams... Or at least, that's what it felt like. The metal chairs were comfortably padded for both back and rump, the wooden table was small, tightly seating 4 people and the air was filled with deliciously smelling cuisine and chatty people.

A few moments later, Diana came back with buns and our drinks. I was presently surprised when I noted that the buns were warm and soft, as if they were freshly baked.

When our starters arrived, I quickly learned that it was more than impossible to eat with cutlery without dropping your meal before it reached your mouth. However, to be honest, I lost my appetite with I touched the Octopus with my bare hands. I could not get over the texture of it in my hands, let alone in my sensitive mouth. I allowed the others I was with to try some of my starter, but after accidentally poking them in the eye and ear with the arm of the Octopus, covered in oil and lemon, they decided it would be best if we kept our meals to ourselves in order to avoid any more accidents.

By the time my main meal arrived, I was starving and the others at my table where already complaining that they were full. I dived into my Filet Mignon, which was perfectly cooked and pre-cut into appropriately-sized pieces. IT WAS SO DELICIOUS; honestly it was an excellent combination of spices and flavors. The vegetables where, I believe, green and yellow string beans, carrots, zucchini and potato wedges.

We all quickly ran out of the napkins that were given to us, but Diana was more than welcome to provide us with more.

The surprise dessert was jello, filled with real fruits, topped with a cookie and some ice cream. I purposely slipped a piece of Octopus, I connivingly saved from my starter, into the dessert bowl of my cousin. I was expecting a violent reaction, but nothing. She later admitted that she found a piece of something that tasted really gross (the Octopus) in her dessert bowl and placed it onto the floor of the dinning room.

All in all, the food was food and the waitress was kind and helpful.

  • Visited December 2011
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
2 Thank HelloWorldAdventures
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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