O Noir is the only blind dining restaurant in Toronto that features the unique dining experience of eating in the pitch black and being waited on by visually impaired servers. Customers are taken to a film-noir inspired lounge where they select their meals. Starters offered include arugula salad, grilled octopus, and grilled calamari. Main courses consisted of vegetable stir fry, chicken breast, filet mignon or shrimp. Desserts include fruit sorbet, chocolate cake or chocolate mousse.
There is also a “surprise” option for dishes. Thus, the restaurant brings you their choices for your course, making the meal even more thrilling.
Once you finish ordering your meals, a server will finally guides you into the dark restaurant. In the dark, only the server can navigate without difficulty. At O Noir, the blind guide leads "the blind," which is a testament to the high level of service provided.
Eating in the dark is a completely out-of-body dining experience, awakening all four other senses, especially your sense of taste.
For instance, once you bring the food to your mouth, you begin to question what exactly you are putting in your mouth. Is it really the chicken I ordered? But it feels different.
Every bite or sip you take, becomes a guessing game - even when you are aware of what you ordered. Your senses are tested when you eat at O Noir. Further, once you shut off your sight, the sensitivity of your tastebuds is heightened and you begin to notice new flavours and textures that you probably would have never tasted before.
Overall it's an enjoyable experience. There’s a certain ingenuity in employing a visually-impaired team and eating in the complete dark. The food is pricy, but you’re not paying for a five-course meal. You’re paying to dine in the dark, to experience the same blindness that your servers experience. It’s a reminder to be understanding and to appreciate your food with not just your eyes, but with all of your other senses.
This piece was edited by Maha Syeda, food editor of CanCulture.