Dinner in the Dark
In the late Nineties, a blind Swiss priest called Jorge Spielmann invited his friends round for dinner wearing blindfolds so they could understand how he felt. From that experience, a whole new dining phenomenon was born, Dark Dining. What does it involve? Pretty much what it sounds like – eating dinner in a dark room. The perfect blind date. The experience is supposed to allow you to eat your food without seeing what it looks like, thereby heightening your sense of taste. What's also interesting is that the servers at most dark dining establishments are blind or partially sighted.
The trend started in 1999 with Spielmann's Blindekuh (Blind Cow) in Zurich, then another in Basel followed. Today, there's also the Unsicht-Bar (Invisible Bar) in Hamburg, Cologne and Berlin. Rival restaurant Nocti Vagus in Berlin goes one further with Darktheater performances as well. Paris boasts Dans le Noir (In the Dark), which also has branches in London and Moscow. Across the Atlantic, there's O. Noir in Montreal, and every weekend in West Hollywood the Hyatt Hotel becomes Opaque, a dark dining experience. Meanwhile, in China, the Jingyu Du (Whale's Stomach) Dark Restaurant chain has established venues in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Dalian and Hangzhou, with plans to expand all over south east Asia.
Some dark dining experiences use waiters with night-vision goggles, but LA's Opaque is operated in conjunction with The Braille Institute of America, and some of the $99 fee goes to the charity. Which, we think, turns a gimmicky experience into something altogether more appealing. Images: with thanks to Opaque, Xinhua