I Tried This: Blind dining at Vancouver's Dark Table

Writer Kate Wilson samples the weirdest things in the city

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      There’s two sorts of blind date. There’s the one where your friend sets you up with their perennially-single buddy from high-school because they’ve just finished watching Clueless and they’re convinced that “you’d have loads in common.” And then there’s the kind where you sit with your significant other in the pitch black.

      This was the latter.

      Dark Table is a unique dining experience. Employing blind or visually-impaired servers to look after customers, the restaurant operates without any lights on, turning the tables on a society preoccupied with visual communication. And it does it pretty damn successfully—because Dark Table is dark. As in, dark

      Choosing our meals on the restaurant’s patio, we're told to remember each others' faces, and enter the first atrium.

      Our server runs us through the format. “You’ll have to hold on to my shoulders to go in and out of the restaurant, and we’ll walk together as a train,” she says. “Don’t worry, there’s no stairs or obstacles.”

      “Are there landmines and tripwires?” my boyfriend whispers in my ear.

      “No landmines or tripwires,” the server confirms. Damn her hearing is good.

      She opens the door to the restaurant. I take a step forward and smack my knees on something pretty solid. “Er, am I behind the door?” I ask.

      “Yes, I think you might be. Sorry,” she jokes. “You’ve got to look where you’re going.”

      Leading us through the main restaurant, our server guides us to feel out our table, chairs and placemats. Pointing out where our drinks are cutlery are located, she explains that, because of the blackness, we’d have to yell out her name to get her attention.

      An attentive waitress, our server is quick to drop off our “surprise starter”. And we fast discover that eating kale and apple in a creamy sauce out of a dish in the dark is not as easy as it sounds. True—some of it made it to our mouths, but the majority landed on the placemat. Or somewhere else.

      “This is why I tactically wore black today,” I whispered across the table as I pulled a couple of kale leaves off my crotch.

      Fortunately the main courses were pre-cut—a move that ensured we left the restaurant with our clothes looking fresh. The same could not be said for my face. My attempts to use a knife and fork made me happy we were sitting in pitch black, and after a couple of painful lip-punctures, I started attacking my steak with my fingers.

      But for some reason, that cluelessness about our meal—was it veal schnitzel? Was it ravioli?—did wonders for the taste. Dark Table served up some first-class food, and dulling our sight made it even better. Bringing a whole new meaning to the concept of “blind dating,” Dark Table is a very touching experience. And I mean that quite literally.


      Think you can do a better job of feeding yourself? Head to Dark Table for the sittings outlined on their website, or make a reservation here.

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