Review: Dark Table

The included photo is no mistake. This was exactly how dark it was when Andy and I dined at Dark Table for the first time a few weeks ago. The restaurant is located out in Kitsilano, and the concept is supposedly taking the world by storm. Invented by a man in Switzerland, who was frustrated that he was being treated differently for being visually impaired. The employment rates of the blind are ridiculously low, so visiting Dark Table had the added benefit of helping a good cause.

Confused? Yeah. Let me explain. Dark Table enables its diners to experience eating as though they are completely blind. There is no light, like, none at all. The dilution of the visual sense is meant to enhance the other senses, including of course, taste. Diners are entirely reliant on their server to show them to the table, to present them with food and drink and if necessary, show the way to the bathroom.

For obvious reasons, photos are not allowed – hence the lack on this post. Photos would have been beneficial because maybe then I would be able to identify what I was eating. We ordered ‘mystery snacks’, a ‘mystery starter’, a known main and then a ‘mystery dessert’. How mysterious! While we could pick out most of what we were eating (we were trying really hard) it was extremely difficult. We were told we could see the exact menu at the end, but annoyingly we forgot 🙁

I ended up eating a lot of the food with my hands (hey, no-one could see!). It was too hard to tell with my fork whether I had scooped up everything, I really needed to just get in there and feel around. It worked well for the munchies (which we thought were deep fried pickles), the starter (well mostly, a combination of different root vegetables, nuts and apple in a salad) and the carrot cake for dessert. The main was a different story. I still ate a lot of it with my hands but… it was lamb ragu. So at the end, I had VERY messy hands – and I couldn’t even properly tell if I’d wiped them clean! Andy struggled a bit too – he had ordered fish of the day. While it was absolutely beautiful, he didn’t discover the sauce on the side until the very end, by which time it was too late. He was a bit more dignified than me and didn’t want to eat with his hands.

The whole experience was quite surreal. We marvelled at how smoothly and quickly the servers seemed to operate, despite being visually impaired. We felt very helpless! It was a very fun experience and one I would definitely recommend. I think it would be best received in small groups, as overall it was quite an intimate and concentrated meal!

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