October 29, 2012

Oh Noir



Fella and I went to O Noir recently for our anniversary dinner.
It might be a little strange to celebrate over a dinner where you can't actually see each other
but we'd been wanting to go for awhile (read: two years or more)
so we thought the occasion called for it.

If you don't know about O Noir,
the concept is this -
there are no lights in the restaurant.
It's pitch black.
All of the waiters are blind.

When you arrive, you are handed a menu to choose your dishes.
It's prix fixe so there isn't a lot to remember
you can choose from two courses or three.

We chose three.
It was a special occasion
so we thought we'd treat ourselves to dessert.

Then you wait around in this dim lounge area that looks like it was once a grungy pub.
Obviously they don't need to put a lot of effort into ambience
but this lounge area was pretty grim
and I kind of felt like I was going to a dinner theatre
instead of just a dinner.

You can have a drink at the bar if you choose but eventually they take your order and show you which room you will be eating in.
The hostess tells you who your waiter will be and then you wait for them.
Ours was Victor.
Victor showed up after a few minutes
and asked me to put my left hand on his shoulder and then have fella put his on mine so he could lead us to our table.

You go in.
It's really, really dark.
You can't see your hand in front of your face.
You quickly become aware of not knowing where anything is
how big the room is
who is in there with you.

Victor told us where are place settings were so we could feel around on the table
and get a sense of the space.
We ordered some wine.

And we listened.
Eventually your eyes stop trying to adjust when you're brain realizes that there is no light.

And you listen.
And try to sort out sounds.
And, eventually, relax.

It was an interesting experience.
To be honest, the food wasn't great
and it's kind of pricey for mediocre food
($39 for 3 courses)
You can opt for "surprise" courses (which fella did)
and try to figure out what it is.
(The surprise dishes aren't on the menu)
I'm not an adventurous eater
(and I don't eat beef)
so I didn't feel comfortable opting for the surprises
but I did get the surprise dessert
(surely there wouldn't be meat in the dessert?)
We joked that dessert would be vanilla ice cream.
Hahaha.
What a surprise that would be!

But here's what I thought as I sat there -

Your senses are heightened, just as you suspect they might be.

You can blatantly eavesdrop on other people's conversations and they'll never know!

If you spill stuff, you won't find out until you leave

My spatial perception is pretty good.
I remembered where everything was
and didn't knock anything over.

But most of all -
this is what it's like to be blind.
And that was something.

There were a couple of other disappointments -
throughout our meal, fella could see light when the door was opened.
We mentioned it to our waiter (who, of course, wouldn't know)
but it still happened. We thought since that was their big "thing" they could at least ensure that it really was completely dark.

My main course was grilled shrimp with risotto and a vegetable.
The vegetable was beans.
and for some reason the beans freaked me out
even though I knew what they were.
There was something about the consistency that was just wrong.
I also had one go up my nose because I didn't know I had stabbed it perpendicular to my fork.
Oh and the risotto was terrible
and there was about a tablespoon of it which, in retrospect, wasn't a bad thing.

We thought it would be fun to go back with some friends of ours
just to "see" what their reactions would be
(mostly because it would be hilarious for us!)
but the food
I don't know if I could get past the bad food.


Our last course came and I was excited to
have something be a mystery.

Victor arrived and said
"are you ready for your big surprise?"

I'm ready! I piped up.

It came with a spoon.
And was in a bowl.

Some sort of pudding?

A creme caramel?

No.
My first bite was cold and fruity.

Apple.
The apple was warm
Baked apple.
(and not very much apple.)

but what was the cold?

oh yes,
vanilla ice cream.

Some surprise.






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