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Dark Dining - Anyone try it?

DrBruin Feb 22, 2009 08:01 AM

So, I was watching Nip/Tuck the other week and two of the characters went to a restaurant that was pitch black. It sounded like an unusual dining experience that I'd like to try.

After some googling, I came across one restaurant in LA called OPAQUE in Santa Monica which offers this experience. The prices seem a bit much 99/head for what you're getting foodwise (a three course meal of a salad, a protein, and a dessert).

1. Have you tried it? Did you like the experience? Does salad really taste any differently in the dark? Would you do it again?
2. Where'd you go?
3. Most importantly, how was the food?

  1. m
    missliisa Feb 23, 2009 11:42 AM

    I believe ( and I am often wrong <<blonde) that this started in NYC (?) by a blind chef who wanted diners to experience what it's like to dine deprived of your sense of sight, as he is.

    You order in the "lobby" and then are led single file to your table with your arm on the person's shoulder in front of you.

    There was an article on this place in Gourmet a few years back. And the gist was - once you succumb to the situation it becomes a bit seductive and heightens senses.

    My fear would be biting down onto that wilted piece of lettuce...that gristly bit of chicken....but then again.....it does sound like quite an experience..... I would definitely wear dark colored clothing that I didn't mind staining <G>.

    1. j
      Joani Macaroni Feb 22, 2009 08:27 PM

      My daughter and her (then-boyfriend, now) husband went to the place you mention (Opaque). You go for the experience, not for the food, although the food was good, according to her. (As in "good" not "Good!")
      Of course, it is really pitch dark in there, so you are not seeing the food and lacking the visual sense, the food, no matter how good, may be disappointing. I'm not saying it will be, but probably about a third of what we "taste" when sitting down to a gourmet meal is the presentation, a third the actual taste and a third the aroma. (That's not a scientifically accurate statement, just my "guestimate"). So if you're missing a third of the package, you may be disappointed in the taste.
      It's something you do once for the adventure. Needless to say, the servers are specially trained, and the restaurant has a limited number of sittings per day, so the hefty price is probably necessary to be profitable. If you think you'll have regrets about spending that much money, take Monku's suggestion - eat at home in the dark.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Joani Macaroni
        DustySlider Feb 23, 2009 11:18 AM

        I'll admit it...I went.

        It's one of those "Interesting but I'll never go again" experiences.

        I had chicken....$100 chicken. The food was ok, but let me say again...it was $100 chicken.

        The interesting aspect is being in the dark. That was kinda cool. One of my friends starting having a panic attack, but settled down after a while. And it really is dark. No ambient light at all.

        Short story...if you got nothing else to do and some extra cash to burn...sure...give it a shot. But don't go for the food....

      2. monku Feb 22, 2009 09:20 AM

        It's a gimmick joint I doubt any CH will admit going to.

        6 Replies
        1. re: monku
          RicRios Feb 22, 2009 09:24 AM

          I was about to say same.
          A search (through Google, not the useless board search tool ) produces close to no hits.
          This is probably the most "comprehensive" one:

          1. re: RicRios
            monku Feb 22, 2009 04:33 PM

            Isn't there also a place where you dine on beds?
            or is that something I dreamt about?

            1. re: monku
              Caralien Feb 22, 2009 04:42 PM

              There was a place in Paris called Cabaret with beds for dining and lounging; we went there in 1998. There are places I went to in SoBe with beds too, both clubs and restaurants, early 00's. Cama on 6th in SF when I left in 2006. Dining (or finding a spot to put one's drink) may be harder to do on the larger beds, particularly when people are jumping on them. At Cabaret, there were 2 types of beds--ones with tables in the center, and others along the walls with sheer screens for privacy. Not the best method for dining, but fun at the time.

              There are also Moroccan restaurants where one can choose to lounge on the pillows while eating. I have not mastered that one either, as my leaning arm gets tired.

              1. re: monku
                New Trial Feb 22, 2009 06:04 PM

                The short-lived Aphrodisiac in Century City offered that option as does/did Nirvana on Wilshire in Beverly Hills

                1. re: monku
                  The Old Man Feb 22, 2009 06:57 PM

                  Yes, you eat on beds in total darkness, using chopsticks. Wine is served in dog bowls and is meant to be lapped up. Oh, you also must use your clothes as a napkin--none are provided.

                  1. re: The Old Man
                    cuccubear Feb 23, 2009 11:25 AM

                    Old Man, you make me laugh!

                    But, on second thought, maybe you're serious? Is it called the 9 1/2 Weeks Cafe?

            2. Caralien Feb 22, 2009 08:45 AM

              I think the concept is ridiculous, but do understand that it could possibly enhance some people's experience if they ate that way for awhile (ie even the senses for a person recently blinded won't develop immediately). I would probably slice my own fingers off, being distracted by anyone else walking, eating, talking.


              1. monku Feb 22, 2009 08:15 AM

                Place like that I'd worry about the things I can't see if the lights were on.
                You could turn off the lights the next time you eat dinner at home and see if its any different.

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