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O Noir in Montreal...any comments? [moved from Ontario board]

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Hello all...My journey for expanding my dining experience continues and this time it is taking me to Montreal. Hubby and I are going for a quick one night stay next week and have reservations at O Noir. Hubby is really excited and I'm game although I wonder if my claustophobia might be a problem being that I will be totally in the dark. Any comments from fellow chowhounders who have been there regarding food, service, and that 'closed in' feeling would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!!

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  1. From what some friends have told me (I've never been there myself) the food is OK but not great. In the end it's the experience you're paying for, and they seemed very happy with it.

      1. I haven't been there although I was curious. However I just read a humourous article about a new restaurant in Hong Kong that has the same concept, from a local magazine there. The funniest bit was, the server being interviewed claims that most customers, at the end of the meal, would ask him to escort them to the washroom, because they need to clean the food from their face before heading back out to the broad daylight!

        Honestly I don't think the place should be a problem for clastrophobics, although it might get messy (which could be fun).

        Like the one in Hong Kong, I heard that the servers are blind because they are typically extra skillful navigating around such places.

        1. I went there with a friend at the beginning of July. I had a "surprise dish" and my friend ordered shrimp risotto. We both thought our dishes were fine. The experience made me realize how much I judge food by its appearance.
          The experience was fun though, and I would agree with others who say that's what you're paying for. As for feeling "closed in" it's difficult to say. The restaurant sounds like a fairly open space, though while we were sitting down, my brain didn't visualize much beyond the area immediately around our table. I experienced a tiny feeling of excitement/panic when being led to the table, but once there I was pretty comfortable. There are lit exit signs that you can see in the dining area.

          I would recommend it. Consider it 3 courses at $20 plus $15 for the experience.

          1 Reply
          1. re: hungryjackhungry

            Thank you everyone for the reponses...I can't wait to try it!

          2. I am again reviving an old topic. Thought it is more appropriate to continue an old tread.

            We went to O'Noir with a bunch of colleagues recently. Our experience was very very odd. First, if you freak out easily or are with people that get freak outs easily, don't go! We had to leave because a colleague got a panic attack. Apparently it happens a lot.I wonder if they have some kind of freakout-heart failure insurance. Servers are trained to guide you and help you to find your ease, but on our night, our specific waiter was a little bit too harsh and insensitive so he even contributed to the freakout of our dining companion. Oh, don't wear your contacts if possible; you won't need them anyway.

            The whole experience is odd, claustrophobic and decontextualized. I guess if you were born with a lack of sight, you won't get much disoriented at such a setting; but people with sight take lots of things for granted about mundane things such as eating. When a basic thing such as light it taken away you feel the whole atmosphere is too demanding to enjoy a decent evening. I think it will help if one goes there with close friends that could make you feel safe ; going there for a business function is the stupidest idea. It is like having a bad trip with your boss; not good. You are basically incapacitated the minute you enter the dark room, you lose basic things such as ability to walk or find your way to the loo. You cannot move from your seat, and need a server to take you.

            The whole experience is educative in terms of showing the things that you take for granted, but mixing it with food, I think, takes the pleasure aspect from the food. No you don't suddenly get elevated senses and enjoy the food. In fact the whole experience is so distracting that you might not care for the food afterall. But most people don't go there for food anyway. Anyway, food...

            It was ok. Some dishes were better, such as an octopus appetizer, but nothing was mind blowing or as a matter of fact "good". The other thing is that you cannot use utensils properly in the dark (ever tried cutting a steak blindfolded, or eating mesclun greens without seeing them?) and eventually might give in and eat with your fingers, caveman style. You also need to feel the plate with fingers to locate the meal occasionally. Wear old dark clothing, it might get messy. Overall, it was an experience (and perhaps might have been fun if I were with more appropriate people), but I am also glad that I didn't pay for it myself. At some point, it started to feel like a rip-off. thank god, it was someone's expense account.

            1. I basically agree with what everyone else has said but I would like to offer some advice.

              First: wear things that you don't mind getting food on. When I went I got chocolate mousse and avocado on my skirt--the stains came out but still.

              Another little tidbit is to make sure you bring little hand wipe packets because if you're anything like the majority of my six-person group, you WILL end up eating with your fingers and this DOES get messy. It's not like you will want to ask to go to the bathroom at the end of every course. (Asking to go to the bathroom, since you're being guided there, is quite the production.)

              On the topic of eating with your fingers, be warned that if you want to try the food of your friends and neighbours, you will likely be using your fingers there too--and they will as well. This means that hand to mouth to neighbour's plate to back again--just sayin', if you're a germaphobe, consider the consequences.

              Lastly I want to warn you that it does get excessively loud in the dining room. A lot of screeching. I think this has something to do with the excitement, coupled with the fact that people are overcompensating for lack of sight.

              1. There's definitely that element of claustrophobia. On occasion you'll catch a glimmer of light come from the kitchen and it becomes very apparent just how small the room is, which sort of makes things worse. Having lots of people chattering away in such a small space can also make it worse. It can also, at times, feel very private. It became much more comfortable as time went on. I'm not sure I'd really *recommend* it if you're claustrophobic - but not being claustrophobic, I got over the feeling relatively quickly.

                One of my biggest peeves about the eating in the dark concept is that it doesn't really imitate *your* experience being blind, but rather as if *everyone* became blind. You can't ask your dining companion whether or not something was properly cooked etc. and worse, you can't flag a waiter very easily if you'd like something/want assistance.

                The food quality is average, at best... but the experience is novel.

                Full review @ http://www.afoodyear.com/2007/09/10/o...