Dark Table – Kitsilano, Vancouver

This was my first time trying the Dark Table experience so I was feeling a little anxious before going in. A lot of silly questions popped in my head like…”What if I need to use the washroom…? What if I knock over my cup of hot tea?! What if I choke on a bone!?!”

Our dinner reservation time was at 8:45 p.m. We had arrived earlier than our scheduled time and the restaurant looked like it was shut. I thought Google Map had lead me to the wrong address but when I got closer, I saw the Dark Table sign…

When we came back a little later, there were more customers arriving and the hostess greeted us. At the entrance, you are given a menu where you can choose your main course and choice of beverage. The anxious me got worried again when I saw the words “Surprise starter” and “Surprise dessert”…”What if I am allergic to some of the ingredients? What if the dish is spicy?!” The hostess assured me that nothing was spicy and she did mark down that I do not eat walnuts. After she takes your order, you just wait outside until your server calls you in.

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This is the only picture I took that night as you are required to turn off your cell phone after you enter the restaurant. They say a picture is worth a thousand words but hopefully my writing skills are good enough so that I can help you visualize my dining experience with less words than that! 😀

The servers at the restaurant range from having little vision or no vision at all. They guide you into the restaurant by having you hold on to his/her shoulder. He/she will then take you to your table. While I was waiting for our food to be served, I was trying to orient myself and felt around the table to find my cutlery and cup of hot tea.

Our appetizer came shortly afterwards. I reached for my fork and began to stab randomly on my plate hoping I will get something. No luck. Then I realized it was much easier to locate the food with my fork by touching the food first with my hand. The appetizer was cinnamon apples with popcorn in a lemony dressing. This is my guess only as I forgot to ask the cashier what it was on our way out! It was pretty easy to tell due to the unique texture of each ingredients though.

For the main course, I ordered the fish of the day, Mediterranean style which came with aleppo pepper and grilled lemon. I think it was a red snapper fish. I also confirmed with the server before eating whether it was boneless or not! The fish was cooked just right and the skin was very crispy. There was no fishy taste and tasted very fresh. There was also some squash like vegetables served on the side. There was also a piece of lemon that I mistakenly put in my mouth which was super sour! My friend ordered the local chicken kafta which was also boneless. He said the chicken was very succulent. His dish came with a side of coleslaw.

Finally, for dessert, he had the tiramisu and I had a mixed fruit sorbet. Once again, this is our speculations only! They served me a different dessert as I said I did not want to have any nuts. Both desserts were pretty decent.

The 3 course dinner costs $42 per person but we had a Groupon so we only paid $59. I think $30 per person is more reasonable as the proportions are a little small. When you are ready to leave, the server will take you to the cashier to pay. There are only two lit areas in the restaurant; one is the washroom and the other is the cashier area. After you pay, your server will take you back to the entrance to leave.

We spoke to one of the servers to find out more about the logistics of the restaurant. The servers memorize the location of the tables. The food and drinks are prepared by staff who have full vision. Once the food is ready, the waiting staff takes the food from the kitchen to the bar area and tells the servers which table to deliver the food to.

When we left, it took us some time to get used to the bright lights again. We looked at our phones and it was already 10:45 pm! Two hours went by in the blink of an eye! You really lose track of time when you are in complete darkness…This was a very interesting experience for me as I have never done anything in pitch black before. It was a little frightening at first as I felt very uncomfortable and disoriented. I was actually afraid I was going to fall asleep 😛 However, after a while, I started getting used to it. I have learned to rely on my other two senses, my sense of touch and taste , to help compensate for the lack of vision. Although I could not actually see the food, I could visualize what I was eating in my head through these two other senses.

It was also a great experience because I think it’s been a very long time since I’ve had a meal with someone without actually looking at my phone. Being without a phone, it really forced me to focus on the conversation with my friend and genuinely enjoy their companionship. It is amazing how quickly those two hours flew by when sometimes I feel like an hour dinner with the family feels more like four when you’re done scrolling through your latest Facebook and Instagram feeds…

Mostly importantly, I am reminded how blessed I am to have full vision. I can walk out of the restaurant and see the beautiful colours of the world again — the street lights, the cars on the road and my friend’s face. I cannot imagine what it will be like if I have to have every single meal in complete darkness…

So I definitely urge you to give this Dark Table experience a try! It is a little pricy but the experience is well worth it!

 

 

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