by Maia E. | Posted on Yelp
My now boyfriend booked O.Noir for our first actual date so this place is very special to me. I read a lot of mixed reviews as well as watched some YouTube videos as to what to expect since I’m not good with the unknown. We got to the restaurant which was downstairs and it was dim inside. When you get in there’s a bar area where you can have drinks to wait to be brought to the rooms. We also ordered our meals at the bar area before we went into the dark. The cost was $39.95 for a 3 course meal or $32.95 for a 2 course. We both had the 3 course surprise meal. At first I wanted to order the items but then I thought to myself why not get the surprise meats it’s not everyday that I come to this place.
You do have the option of not picking the surprise meal if you’re not adventurous. The servers were all fully or partially visually impaired in the dark rooms. There are 2 area one side for large groups and one side is more intimate I guess for couples. We went to the couples side and basically have our hands on the shoulder of the server and followed him into a pitch dark room. All camera and flashlight had to be turned off before you entered the room. The server will guide your hands the entire meal as to where the table, chairs, cutlery and drinks are. At the beginning it was hard to adjust but after awhile your eyes are more adjusted but you still can’t see. It’s pretty cool since your smell and taste senses heighten and the food was amazing. I had wine with my meal which was an adventure trying to not spill each time I reached for my glass. Our first surprise course was grilled octopus it was delicious. Our surprise mains was steak. It was cut for us so that we can just eat it. I had to use my other hands to guide me to the food and to my mouth. Third surprise course was chocolate cake. So good. Not sure if it was a good idea for the first date since you can potentially have food all over your face and clothes by the time you were done. My boyfriend tried to be sweet and fed me in the dark but the food went into my cheek! Lol when you’re done the server guide you back out and you’re pretty much blinded by the bright light. It was an amazing experience, service was great and the food was fantastic! I highly recommend everyone to come experience O.Noir!
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.