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O’Noir

This is what it’s like to dine in the dark:

Yes. Complete, pitch black, darkness. Truly an absence of light. To eat in total darkness will force you to focus on the taste of the food served, thereby enjoying the subtle nuances in flavour… or so O’Noir claims.

The food was good, but not to die happily over. As an appetizer, I had a grilled octopus-arugula salad, which had lots of good-sized octopus chunks in a nice balsamic vinaigrette. The main was a nicely flavoured filet mignon – we were wondering how we’d manage cutting it up in the dark, but they pre-cut it for us… though the pieces weren’t exactly bite sized. For someone with a tiny mouth, I’m glad it was impossible to see because I definitely had chipmunk cheeks going on. It was accompanied with green beans (again, mostly pre-cut, except for the odd ones that weren’t, which you didn’t expect, which ended up going all over your face/nostrils as you attempted to get it into your mouth…), potatoes, and a few red peppers. Potatoes were too soft so it was rather difficult to get it on your fork and to your mouth without dropping it, but they were fairly tasty. Dessert consisted of a chocolate mousse, also nothing special except the fact that it was ginormous! I kept expecting to come to my last forkful, but I just kept finding more. With that, it was a very filling meal.

This is a restaurant that you would come, not so much for the food, but for the experience of being blind. I found that my other senses of touch and hearing were extremely heightened, whereas taste and smell were about the same. The cool thing is, the wait staff are all blind, which is great that there are such opportunities available for the blind. For some funny reason, even though it makes no difference whether your eyes are open or closed, I felt like I could “see” when my eyes were open, but felt more blind when I closed my eyes. Your eyes get very tired from constantly trying to focus and see something, so I closed my eyes for the last half of dinner. I became very good at using my fork to tap around my plate in ever-diminishing circles to find any food I may have left (whereas others, whom I will not name, decided that since it’s dark, to heck with manners and used their hands =p) and it was actually exciting when I found a stray chunk of octopus or mignon! The only thing that was truly difficult was buttering bread. I definitely got butter all over my fingers trying to butter up my dinner roll (which was freshly baked and delicious). I eventually gave up and just dabbed chunks of bread into the pat of butter since hey, no one can see you!

My one complaint about the whole experience is that, for some inexplicable reason, people feel the need to speak louder when they cannot see the person with whom they are conversing. Behind us was a birthday party table (they sang Happy Birthday midway through). They were excruciatingly loud, to the point where we had to shout at our table of 6 to hear each other! For the first 10 minutes or so, I felt extremely claustrophobic due to the noise which felt like it was pressing down on me, and the waiter actually had to come in and ask them to quiet down, which was a short-lived relief. But once the food came, my mind was fully focused on the task of eating (the bread and octopus were the best parts of the meal too), so the noise became more bearable throughout the rest of the meal.

My recommendation: Go with a group of 4-6 people max. This is not an ideal date place because of the noise (which apparently happens to everyone according to several reviews I read prior to going), but it is fun to experience it with your friends and laugh at each other’s attempts to eat completely blind. You can choose between a 2- or 3-course meal, but since my friends and I knew this was to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, we chose to splurge on the 3 course. All-in-all, it was a fun night with good friends and decent food.

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