There are several things I do fairly well in the dark, and a few I may not have done especially well but greatly enjoyed while they were going on. Except as prelude, however, none of them involved going out to dinner:
Imagine a San Francisco dining experience like no other. In a pitch-black dining room, each flavor and texture greets enthusiastic senses hungry for an awareness once brought by sight. This is Opaque, San Francisco’s first dark dining restaurant.
A brilliant experimental dining concept that originated in Europe, dark dining allows food to stir the senses in the most unique way. Each burst of spice, each hint of sweetness, each touch of tang stands out, yielding an entirely new appreciation of fine cuisine. Under the expert guidance of Chef de Cuisine Mike Whang (of the popular Indigo Restaurant), the menu at Opaque in San Francisco cultivates a multi-sensory adventure with an array of options woven into a three-course prix fixe meal.
And a good thing it’s prix fixe, too, because I’d hate to pore over the menu under those conditions.
But maybe I’m just missing the point:
Upon arrival at their allotted reservation time, guests will begin their journey into depravation by turning off all cell phones and checking any purses or bags with the hostess in the lounge, since they’ll not be needed in the dark dining room. Guests are welcomed to relax in the lighted lounge, order a round of specialty cocktails and select the three courses that will make up their prix fixe menu. Once they have ordered, they’ll be guided into the darkened dining room for a dining experience unlike any other. While not all patrons dine at the same time, great care is taken to make sure that the seating of other tables does not disrupt the experience for those who are already seated. Guests will be guided and served by visually impaired individuals that have been specially trained to serve in the dark and tend to the varying needs of each patron in a comfortable and reassuring way.
Okay, that explains the menu. But where do they find “visually impaired” waitstaff? Do they advertise on craigslist or in the Chronicle? And how long does it take them to figure out if you’re a rotten tipper?
Still, as the saying goes, you knock out one sense, the other four compensate:
A highly sensual experience, dining at Opaque challenges the way patrons perceive their surroundings and cuisine. Feeling for a fork, running fingers along inviting tabletops, recognizing only the voices of companions, drawing in sweet and savory aromas, identifying each ingredient and spice as they eclipse the palate.
“Oh, lord, what did I just dunk the end of my tie into?”
Maybe I’ll just order a pizza at sunset and forget to turn on the lights.
(Via John Rosenberg.)