Food Finds: dining in the dark

I’m sure that most of us have heard of the belief that the loss of one of the five senses can heighten the ability of the others. While this is an interesting concept, most of us will not get the chance to experience it — that is, unless you’re willing to visit Dark Table, a Kitsilano restaurant that offers a unique dining experience in complete and utter darkness.

Now, to be clear: when I say complete and utter darkness, I don’t mean that it’s just really dark. I mean that I took my glasses off because not only were they not helping me, I couldn’t even see them. Dark Table accomplishes this with a ban on light-producing technologies allowed in the dining room, including flashlights, cell phones, or luminous watches. Your order is taken outside in a heated and lit area before you are escorted to your table.

Some of you may panic about the idea of going without your cell phone for the length of a meal, but let me assure you that you will soon get over it. One of the first things I noticed upon entering the restaurant was its sense of calm; when the overwhelming bombardment of visual stimuli coming from everyone’s devices was taken away, I immediately felt more relaxed. In such a serene environment, one cannot help overhearing some of the conversations of the other diners, and it was amazing to hear how open and honest they became when they could no longer hide behind their technology.

On to the food. For $39, Dark Table offers a three-course meal, including a starter, entrée, and dessert. While there is an excellent selection of entrees, both starters and desserts are listed as surprise dishes, which is also an entrée option. Though the listed options all sounded excellent, I chose the surprise entrée, simply to add to the experience by trying to determine what I was eating.

Your servers reveal the meal to you once you emerge from a curtain to a dimly lit area to pay, but I forgot. To this day, I have no idea what my dinner was, but I do know that it was excellent. Don’t worry about trying to operate a fork and knife in total darkness: they pre-cut your meal in the kitchen for you so you don’t end up stabbing yourself.

Maybe the most interesting and inspiring thing about Dark Table is that they offer the blind and visually impaired — a group with a high unemployment rate  — the chance to share how they experience the world with the rest of us, as all the servers are visually impaired in some way or another. Dining here means not only an excellent dinner, but a taste of what it is like to be blind.

From being escorted to and from your table by one of the servers to feeling around for your drink and hoping you don’t spill it, Dark Table truly offers a dining experience like no other.

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