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.
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