When my wife asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday, dining in the dark was the first thing to pop into my head. I suppose we’ve been to enough fancy restaurants that I wanted something truly different. Well, Opaque delivered: it was a delicious, memorable meal. I had a delicious meal in an interesting environment while experiencing my senses in a different way than I had before.
Arriving at Opaque, you go through a nightclub and are seated outside the restaurant area, where you get to read the menu and pick what you’d like to eat. After you make your selection, your server — who is blind — introduces themselves, and readies you to leave the lighted world. Your party forms a little train, each person with their hand on the shoulder of the person in front of them, and the server leads you through the s-shaped curtained passage that separates light and dark, then seats you at your table. You learn that your silverware’s in front of you, that there’s bread on the table, and — most importantly — where to put your drinks on the table so that they don’t get knocked over. Then your server leaves you to get your first course.
That’s when, for me, it started to sink in just how dark it was: this isn’t dining in the dim, your eyes don’t accustom themselves to the environment; there is no light source and you won’t see anything for the next 90 minutes. (If you’re not as narcoleptic as I, you could even try closing your eyes — you won’t miss anything!) You navigate by feel. If you’re lucky, that means that you feel the edge of the butter dish and use your knife to spread some on your bread; unlucky and you discover the butter dish with your finger. You soon learn to explore your world carefully, but it’s surprisingly easy to butter your bread and drink your wine.
For a first course, we both ordered a nice salad with blue cheese, pears, and a spring roll on the side. It was a solid starter, and very accesible — you only needed to do well with your fork to eat it. Next came a little game: three bites, unidentified, that shared one ingredient; you get to guess what it is (I was right).
The main dish was next, and was outstanding again: I had a perfectly-cooked salmon, with firm, moist flesh and a fatty, delicious mouth feel, while Courtney had a steak with an outstanding char on the outside. Our garlicky side dishes were delicious, but my sticky rice — which came with almost everything — was a bit dull. However, that was not enough to throw the evening off at all.
Dessert was also delicious, and mine in particular — a panna cotta — seemed to be well-presented, with a cookie on top and berries scattered around the plate. It was impressive to know that the chefs were showing this kind of attention to detail, since we could never see the end product!
Getting service was surprisingly easy. Our server seemed to always be convenient, and beverage refills were handled without a hitch. The whole process clearly ran quite steadily.
Now, you may be asking: what do you do while you eat, if you’re stuck in the dark? Courtney and I talked, all night long, and did well too, I think, although I had a bit of trouble avoiding listening to background conversation without any visual cues. Or, it could’ve been the couple seated behind us, clearly on a fairly early date, who loudly talked politics throughout the entire meal. Maybe they were more able to argue with an abstract, invisible person?
Anyway, despite that, it was a lovely evening and a delicious meal. I can truly say that I’ve never appreciated salmon that much, and I’ll remember the experience forever. If you’re looking for a special food experience, then I would say Opaque should be a top option for you!