In the wise words of one of our fellow diners, “woooooooooow”. Now, we don’t want her eloquent phrase to be misconstrued, but is O Noir an amazing restaurant? Not really. But the experience definitely is: dining in the dark for an hour or two, which in theory heightens your other senses.
For those who aren’t familiar, the restaurant’s guests dine in complete, all-encompassing, heart-stopping darkness and are served by a blind wait staff. This is part of the deal, in fact it's O Noir's only attraction, but the lack of light is surprising and something you never become accustomed to.
You begin this experience in a dingy, noir film-esque lounge where you're given the chance to browse the menu (while you're still able to see) with the option of choosing your dishes or having a “Surprise” dish.
Between the two of us, we each get our choice of a starter, main dish, and dessert ($39.95 each). To start, we order the Grilled Octopus with Olive Oil and Lime and Roasted Red Peppers and Seasonal Vegetables with Goat Cheese. For our mains, we choose the Filet Mignon served with Potatoes and Vegetables and Marinated Shrimp with Herbs, served with Risotto and Seasonal Vegetables and finally for our desserts, we choose one Surprise Dessert to change things up and the Dark Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream because we aren't that brave.
Eating at O Noir feels like you're a toddler again: make sure your hands are clean because you'll be getting to know your food on an intimate level.
Left to right: Grilled Octopus with Olive Oil and Lime, Roasted Red Peppers and Seasonal Vegetables with Goat Cheese
Both our appetizers were good enough, although the Grilled Octopus was deficient in octopus (then again, maybe we just couldn't find it) and the Vegetables and Goat Cheese had a surplus of goat cheese. It's after this course that you realize that your meal is going to be one crazy adventure.
Left to right: Filet Mignon served with Potatoes and Vegetables, Marinated Shrimp with Herbs, served with Risotto and Seasonal Vegetables
You trek through mountains of potatoes before stumbling upon that long-anticipated steak that until that point you were unsure was even there. All the shrimp is gone by the time you realize there's a whole field of risotto with sprigs of peppers that you didn't even notice before. By this time, you feel like you deserve a medal every time you succeed in putting a spoonful of food into your mouth.
Left to right: Surprise Dessert, Dark Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream
To this day, we're still not entirely sure what our Surprise Dessert was – we have a feeling it was a tart of some sort – we tasted raisins, cinnamon, and apple. The dark chocolate cake turned out to be a welcome relief since it was the easiest to a) actually find and b) actually eat.
Dining in the dark is an especially unique venture because unlike any other place, your experience is affected by three main factors: you, the food, and the service. There’s no decor, no phones, no distractions at all. Plus, the latter is minimal since you’re essentially served your food and left to your own devices (or lack thereof). This means that you pretty much shape your entire dining experience with nothing else to fall back on. In other words, make sure you’re with someone you can stand to be in the dark with for two hours; trust us, it’ll be a really long meal otherwise. If you're in good company, you're in for an experience that'll result in quite a bit of forced bonding, frequent questioning of your motor skills, and one night you'll definitely remember.