Thursday, 3 March 2011

O.NOIR, Toronto, ON

To celebrate Sister Sarah's birthday, I wanted to do something fun and different.

I thought O.Noir would be just that. I'd heard from friends that it is an interesting experience.

Already the rage in Europe, Australia, L.A., New York and Montreal - O.NOIR - Canada's first-ever "Dine in the Dark" restaurant now invites Torontonians to experience food, drink and conversation like never before - without their sight!

"It's a sensual dining experience like no other!" says O.NOIR owner and founder Moe Alameddine. "When you eat food in the dark, your remaining senses are heightened to savour the smell and taste of food. Even simple, everyday dishes like potatoes and yogurt take on a culinary flare."

But O.NOIR does more than just fire the imagination and stimulate the senses. After a few hours in complete darkness (that's right, no flashlights, matches, cell phones, cigarette lighters or luminous watches), customers gain a better understanding of what it's like to be blind - just like the restaurant's entire wait staff.

This socially conscious concept sprang from Jorge Spielmann, a blind pastor in Zurich who used to blindfold his dinner guests at his home so they could share his eating experience. In 1999, Spielmann opened Blindekuh (German for Blind Cow), a project aimed at teaching the sighted about the sightless world, and provide jobs for blind people.

Here are Sister Sarah and I outside the entrance.

And here are Gord and I.

When you enter, you wait in the lounge where you can have a drink. Here are Gord, me and Sister Sarah.

Maria, the bartender, took our food order in the lounge. Gord and Sister Sarah ordered Grilled Portobello Mushroom with Parmigiano shavings and balsamic vinegar for their starters. Gord and I both ordered Five Spice Filet mignon served with Potatoes and Vegetables (we passed on the veggies, though) as our main. Sister Sarah ordered Pasta with light Tomato Sauce and Vegetables. For dessert, Gord and I ordered Dark Chocolate Mousse with Rasberry. Sister Sarah opted for the "Surprise Dessert". They have a "surprise" starter, main and dessert on the menu ... you have no idea what it is until they bring it to you and you have to figure it out when you eat it.

Gord and I knew we'd be eating in the dark. We had told Sister Sarah that there was something special about the restaurant but we wouldn't tell her what.

Tracy, our server, came to lead us into the restaurant ... we had to put our left hand on the shoulder of the person ahead of us. No doubt that confused Sister Sarah!

The restaurant is pitch dark ... serious, it's DARK. You can't see a thing ... nothing! I must admit that it is freaky at first and takes a while to get used to. Tracy was great and told us where everything was ... our knife, fork, butter, etc.

We were the only ones there at first. After a while, two women arrived and sat at another table nearby. Tracy had us sing "Happy Birthday" to Sister Sarah. Then we sang it to Marissa (one of the women) who was also celebrating a birthday. Other people arrived later on.

Here is my main (steak and potatoes).

The potatoes were thickly sliced and the steak was cut up. I tried eating with my utensils but gave up and ate with my hands. I did eat my dessert with the my spoon ... which was guided by my fingers.

Here we are ... Tracy, me, Sister Sarah and Gord.

Because it wasn't very crowded, they let us stay longer than usual (we were there about three hours) to continue to enjoy the experience.

We ran into Mary and Marissa when we were leaving and introduced ourselves face-to-face. It was fun and exciting to discuss it!

The next time I have visitors from out of town, I'd definitely take them there. The food was good and the service was excellent!

You should check it out! Go during the week, though, because Tracy said it gets loud during the weekends (it's sold out) and not as enjoyable.

O.Noir on Urbanspoon


Cindy said...

Hi Teena,
Very interesting! I have never heard of this type of dining experience. I really don't know if I would want to do it. Something to think about.
Hugs, Cindy

Tatiana said...

That sounds SO cool! I've read about it, but would love to try the experience. Great photos by the way! :)

Tina said...

i see what you mean about the dark! hopefully you never found something you shouldnt in your food!

JCB said...

I have never heard of it but I think it sounds AMAZING! And your food pictures ROCKED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!