closeup portrait headshot young woman closing covering eyes with hands can't look hiding avoiding situation isolated grey wall background. see no evil concept. human emotion face expression perceptionRecently, I took advantage of a neat opportunity to experience a different kind of restaurant. This restaurant was Dark Table – located in Vancouver, BC. The unique experience that Dark Table offers is that of enjoying a meal without all 5 senses intact – specifically, without your eyesight.

Dark Table is one of the number of “blind dining” restaurants that are all over the world, in major cities. The dining in the dark experience allows those of us blessed with our eyesight to get a taste of what it’s like to complete as common of an activity as enjoying a meal without being able to see a single thing. Surprise appetizers and desert (we opted to choose our entrees) made the dining experience both a meal and a test of your taste buds all in one. There are theories that eating blindfolded can help you better appreciate the more finite flavors of your meal, but I was more focused on getting the food from the table to my mouth, without losing it along the way, to add any comment to that.

With blind or visually impaired wait staff, this restaurant truly reverses the roles of dining out – not only in navigating the physical environment, but also in the societal structure where the customer typically has the power. In the hour and a half that I was at Dark Table, my eyes did not even remotely adjust to the darkness. I was at the complete mercy of our waiter. I had no idea what my surroundings were like, I couldn’t find my food with my fork, and (worst of all) I couldn’t pour my own wine. At one point, I had to ask to be physically lead to and from the restroom – and standing in the pitch-black waiting for my very kind server to return to collect me and take me back to my table was a moment of total vulnerability. The way he could easily navigate the tables, chairs, customers and other servers carrying drinks and food without imminent disaster is a true testimony to how the human brain can adapt.

After leaving what I can only presume was a good portion of my meal on the unseen plate, I was able to step out of the restaurant with a new appreciation for my 20/20 vision. In my opinion, putting yourself in someone else’s place, even if only for a very short time, and trying to understand the world from their perspective is always a valuable experience.

What are your thoughts on blind dining? Let us know on Twitter or LinkedIn.

— Kaila Joynes, Jr. Consultant