Dark Table is a unique experience offering Blind dining which elevated the senses of touch, taste, hearing and smell.
We were along on Tues. night, having booked the day before. It was popular. We selected our main course outside whilst waiting, then were introduced to our waiter & lead inside to our table. It was totally dark. We were surprised how the waitering staff managed to find their way around. Impressive.
We ordered drinks. A large beer in a tall glass might not have been the most practical of receptacles, but I didn't manage to put it down & knock it over when trying to re-find it ! Our starter was a small, beeroot & lettuce caesar salad, which was difficult to chase around the plate. It was also difficult to determine whether you had anything on your fork, so whilst it was an unusual experience, it was also a little frustrating at times.
My main course was beef tenderloin, which whilst very tasty, the portion size was somewhat small.
My sweet was a chocolate slab, again which was tasty but small.
The experience was undoubtedly unusual & different. But the portions were generally small, very average & the whole experience was severely over-priced.
We tired it once, but wont be going back.
My friend dined there and told me about his experience. After hearing his story, I didn't really want to go. I didn't think an experience in the dark would impress me. I am a very visual person when it comes to my food. I want to see my food. I eat with my eyes and if I can't see my food then I won't be able to enjoy my food.Well, for this experience I put all that aside.
It is located at the old Quattro on 4th location at W 4th Ave and Macdonald. There was lots of free parking in the surrounding areas. There ended up to be only five of us for this experience. We waited on their heated patio for our party to arrive. It was a night in January so it was quiet chilly. We wanted to wait for our whole party before we got seated. Once our whole party arrived, the server came out to bring us in the restaurant. We formed a line like a train and had to hold the right shoulder of the person in front of us. The server led us to our table and seated us one at a time.
Once we got seated we tried to make ourselves comfortable. We had to feel the table to 'see' where everything was. The table setting included a place mat with a side plate in the middle with a small plastic container of butter on the plate. There was a fork on the right. I had to feel around the table to get a sense of the distance between my friends and I. I also had to listen to their voices to get an idea of where they were sitting.
We ordered our food and drinks on the patio. The appy that was available was the 'surprise appetizer'. There were a few entree choices. There was the 'surprise dessert'. For $33, you can order the appy and entree OR the entree and dessert. For $39, you can order all three items. I ordered the $33 option with the surprise appy and the entree. My friend ordered the $33 option with the entree and dessert. We wanted to share the appy and the dessert. The entree I ordered was the 'veal schnitzel with potatoes and seasonal vegetables'. I also ordered a non alcoholic drink (I forgot exactly which drink it was). It was one of those mixed drinks with various juices and soda. It's usually very pretty with the various colors and a pretty garnish like an umbrella or piece of pineapple or cherry. But this time I had no idea what it looks like. These kinds of drinks are easy for the restaurant, they don't need to make it look pretty for the customer. It was in a stemmed glass. I was paranoid that someone would tip it over accidentally. I didn't finish my drink because I forgot that I ordered it. At a regular restaurant when I see my drink it would encourage me to drink more of it.
Our surprise appy came and it was our first encounter of sharing food in the dark. We had to decide the order of how we were going to be seated outside the restaurant when the server came to take us inside. We had to arrange it where we had to be beside the person who we will be sharing food with. I ate my appy with a fork. It was quite the challenge. I didn't know where the food was to poke at it. The surprise appy was a salad. I would feel where the plate was to attempt to eat it. My friend and I devised a plan where we would take turns eating when sharing an item. She would have to tell me she was finished her turn for me to get at the food.
When my entree came, my first instinct was to use my fork to eat it. I decided to go a different approach. I am right handed but I had a band-aid on my right thumb that night. I wanted to eat with my hands. I ended up using my left hand to explore my food. I touched my whole plate with food to feel what I ordered. My veal schnitzel was in slices and I felt the rough texture of the batter. My potatoes were seasoned because I could feel the seasoning on the potatoes. At first I couldn't feel my vegetables but later on I found them. I would take a bite of veal and then a bite of potato then a bite of vegetable. When I put a piece of veal down, I would later pick up another piece to eat. That would happen with the potatoes and the veggies too. I can imagine if there was light and people where to see my plate. There were half bitten pieces of food on my plate. I ended up eating everything on my plate.
The surprise dessert was a orange flavoured cake. It was quite a small piece on a plate. It was difficult to eat because we were sharing this dessert. I didn't want to eat this with my hands because I was sharing the dish. I thought I would be considerate and not splatter my germy hands all over it.
It was quite the experience to eat in the dark. Now you have the choice of eating with a fork or your hands and no one will see you. You can talk to your friends and you don't have to make eye contact. When you want your server, you can't raise your hand to get their attention. You have to call their name to get their attention. You can't just freely get up to use the washroom. You don't know where it is because you can't see the signs. You have to call your server to come get you and they will lead you to the washroom. When you talk and you are used to making hand gestures, it all goes out the window. Your friends can't see your hand gestures. You have to verbally describe what you are talking about. You can't do your people watching in this restaurant, you can't see anyone. I like to take pictures of my food at new restaurants. You can't use anything that emits light like cameras or cell phones. I did take a picture of the restaurant sign and menu only. I couldn't take any pictures of my food.
I would pay a bit more for the experience value of this restaurant. The price is a bit high for the food but it makes up for in experience. The food tasted good. I guess you can try to eat in the dark at home but it's not the same as someone serving you. The servers are legally blind. They know the way around the restaurant. When our server served us, she knew who's food went to whom. It is pretty amazing that she remembered all the tables she is serving and what food everyone ordered.
I would give this restaurant a 4 out of 5. I would definitely go back to this restaurant. The service was excellent. The food was good. The atmosphere I can't rate because its pitch black.
If you are thinking about going to this restaurant stop thinking about it and go! The experience was fabulous! I can't say it's the type of thing I'd do twice but it's defintiely a must do. The food was delicious! My husband and I both had the beef tenderloin for our entree and it was very tender and super flavourful. The portions aren't huge and we made the mistake of going already VERY hungry. We had bought the 3 course livingsocial deal. Bring your own bottle of wine if you go as I don't believe they have a corking fee. The service was amazing and it makes me appreciate even more the abilities of those without sight. It's true that all the servers are legally blind and I marvel at the patience they have with customers who are clumsily fumbling in the dark for the first time. Great food, great service, great experience go check it out!