Dining In The Dark


You have not seen a restaurant review on this blog. I’m easy: I like to eat in restaurants, never send food back, always clean my plate. This review is about an experience, not the menu; our dinner at the restaurant Opaque wasn’t anything I expected.  Their marketing is European-ish, but the actual dining is… different. Good food. Attentive service. And an experience to appreciate.

You are in the dark. Quite literally, you actually dine in utter darkness, not a SPECK of light. Not. A. Speck! Which, of course, convinced me prior to the evening that this would be a weirdo gimmick. Stick with me here.  It obviously IS a gimmick, and they promote it to be the ultimate way to be at one with the food, not to be distracted, blah blah blah.

That’s not what it actually IS. In my opinion, it’s about being blind. That was the experience I came away with and for that, I was grateful.  This was my second encounter as the patron of a fully sightless business; first was a massage in Shanghai. GREAT massage.

So now you know that for this post, I am not joking. The wait staff at Opaque is visually impaired. Our guy, Raphael lost his sight just four years ago. He can see shadows in his left eye, nothing in his right. It took one week for this to happen; diabetes. Yet here he is, viably employed in a restaurant. He did a superb job.  And there we were, vulnerable as he. Our vulnerability was less than two hours. His is for life.

You won’t see me review the food. Yes, I liked it.  But for this post, it is more about REALLY trying to be “present” as a sightless person.  Listening to other diners to figure out the room layout. How many tables were there? How many wait staff? Where was Raphael right now and how many tables did he have? Would I topple my glass (the wine glasses were THANKFULLY stem-less, little stubby things. But still, real glass).  How much did I rely on fingers vs. utensils?  A melon ball in the salad wasn’t cooperating, and I wasn’t sure if it was a cherry tomato, so that gave my fingers permission to do some walking. Worked out fine.

Larry did well.  He thrives on trying new things — within reason (don’t ask him to bungee jump).  I was the resistant one because, seriously, I wasn’t into the gimmick I thought it was. Now I think it’s quite worth the experience.

Opaque understandably prefers parties of two. NOT a place for kids, no matter how much you are into exposing your offspring to adventure. When you dine there, you will get a greater sense as to why.

Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco. Booked several weeks in advance.  Opaque Restaurant. Give it a try, then comment.  Or ask questions, happy to fill you in more.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kelly December 2, 2010 at 10:00 am

Sounds fantastic. I’m a pretty easy diner myself, but will send something back if it is truly off. I’ve definitely heard about this dining trend and it sounds interesting. I love when food appeals to all of my senses, but it would be interesting to see what the experience is like without sight.

2 Worth The Whisk December 1, 2010 at 9:06 pm

Bianca, I cannot think of a reason to not go. The food was good enough to review, although the menu is quite limited for obvious reasons.

3 Bianca @ South Bay Rants n Raves December 1, 2010 at 7:49 pm

Thanks for the description. I’ve been wondering what this place is all about. May need to do a bit more research before deciding if I should go but I do appreciate your insight!

4 Kim November 30, 2010 at 1:19 pm

One of my trainers told me about this place, but I’ve been. And plan to make reservations for myself and Barry. Thanks for the reminder – can’t wait to report back!


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