Unique Dining Experiences (O.NOIR Review)

03
Nov
2014

by Jesse H | Posted on Yelp

Booked this as a Groupon as it seemed like it would be a fun date night for my girlfriend and I, and we definitely weren’t disappointed, as it turned out to be pretty much everything we expected and more. It would be worth it even at the full price, and we’ll almost certainly go back again in the future.

As other reviewers have pointed out, there is no understating that you’re dining in the *dark*. Pitch, black, inky, darkness. They ask you to turn off cellphones and avoid any clothing or jewellery such as watches that may illuminate or glow, and in our experience, everybody was pretty good in that regard. It was dark to the point that your eyes actually play tricks on you for the first little while until you’ve sort of fully adjusted and your brain has accepted that you’re not going to be seeing anything for the next two hours.

The serving staff were polite and professional, and while it was more than a little disconcerting and even a bit spooky when first being led into the dark dining room, once we managed to get seated and the server described where everything was on the table, we got settled in pretty quickly.

One of the great things about the experience is that you don’t feel at all rushed… the meal gets started pretty quickly as all of the seatings are generally at the same time, but you’ve basically got about two hours to get through a three-course meal — plenty of time to enjoy the meal and the experience, and the food came at a completely appropriate pace — not too fast, and not too slow.

As a concession to the fact that you’re dining in the dark, the table settings are kept basic… You get a napkin, plate, fork and knife when you first sit down. Obviously no need for other ornamentation, and the server brings water and drinks to you at the table, holding them out for you to feel for and grasp yourself and then set on the table on the side away from the server. We had ordered a bottle of wine, and rather than bring the bottle to the table and expect us to pour and handle it in the dark, they basically divide a bottle into four glasses — the server brought the first two filled and ready, and simply told us we could ask for the second whenever we were ready.

I had the arugula salad, and my girlfriend had the portobello mushroom appetizer. While it was a bit challenging to eat in the dark, that’s of course all part of the experience, and you can’t be afraid to get your hands a bit messy unless you’re really that good aiming a fork and knife without the benefit of your eyes. We both had the filet mignon for the main course, which arrives pre-cut to save the trouble of wielding a steak knife in the dark, and then decided to go for the surprise option for dessert — we ended up with what seemed like a walnut-mocha cheesecake, although we forgot to ask afterward exactly what it was. Either way, we both felt that the surprise dessert ended up being a better choice than the other standard options on the dessert menu, and it’s definitely fun getting food in the dark and having to figure out what you’re eating solely by texture and taste. It was definitely worth taking the chance, at least for dessert, but if you’re feeling really adventurous, you can select a surprise for each of the three courses, which would make for an interesting dining experience overall.

In terms of ambience, the room was about what one would expect in a standard nice restaurant, with conversations going on around us, but not bothersome or interrupting our own conversation. In fact, the darkness provided a sense of privacy and intimacy that may not have otherwise been present in a standard restaurant setting, and both my girlfriend and I actually enjoyed just sitting there and having some serious conversations about the experience and just life in general which was made more interesting based on the fact that we were just disembodied voices in the dar (she was probably also making faces at me the whole time, mind you 🙂 ).

While this may not be an ideal first date experience, it’s definitely a great date night for somebody that you’ve known for a while, especially if you enjoy trying new things and have a good whimsical sense of what’s fun and interesting.