02 May ONOIR – Dining in the dark
While blogging about unexpected connections to help people with their goals and dreams, I also intend to take the advice of a very successful blogger and good friend, Ian Ord. He suggests that bloggers be sure to write about things that are important to them personally as well as professionally. Ian is a travel blogger who now lives in Thailand and is doing very well. He used his zombie blog post as an example. It had nothing to do with travel, but sent thousands of people to his page. After all, as Simon Sinek says, “People don’t buy what you sell, they buy what you believe”. (See his inspiring TED Talk here). Very cool.
So here is what I have in mind today. It is about my recent dining experience at this very unique restaurant called “ONOIR”.
At this restaurant – which has locations around the world – diners eat in complete darkness and are served by blind people. As expected, this was an amazing experience. Our group enjoyed some drinks in the softly lit lobby while we placed our orders. When our table was ready we were brought in by Gavin, our server through a door and into the blackness. When the first door closed behind us we went through the second door on our left. I immediately noticed two things: 1. That the blackness was extreme and that the room we were going into was noisy! It sounded like there were a hundred people in there.
With a hand on the shoulder of the person in front of me, we were instructed to keep one shoulder on the wall as we were guided – in absolute complete darkness – to our table. It was a little uncomfortable to begin with but at the same time very stimulating. Gavin told us what to expect and gave us some guidelines. No problem. We were told that it’s common for people in this setting to speak louder than normally. It turns out that there were only 36 seats in this particular dining room which was one of three that they have.
Gavin would touch us on the left shoulder any time he had something to deliver to us and we’d meet his hand with ours. This worked well. I would not describe myself as ‘touchy-feely’, but when Gavin spoke to the group, he’d touch our backs or shoulders and could direct our attention with his physical gestures as well as his words. This was new for me, but it felt comfortable. I felt that I was really getting to experience a part of how blind people communicate.
Throughout the evening, I was happy to notice that it seemed my sense of smell was enhanced.
My roasted red peppers and grilled vegetables with goat cheese – appetizer was amazing but I found that I had to use my hands to be sure that I’d eaten it all. Buttering my bread roll was not the easiest either, but it was fun. I could taste everything in more detail than normal. Looking up towards the ceiling through the blackness while people spoke to me felt liberating. At one point I even had my arms sprawled across the table while people chatted away. In silence I enjoyed focusing my listening to different conversations at our table and around the room. I think that active listening is something that we most often take for granted.
A highlight of my fillet Mignon dinner was how by the end of the meal I could recognize the difference between stabbing a piece of meat or a piece of potato. To start, I had to use my fingers to figure out what I was actually feeding myself. It was so interesting to be forced to pay attention to these other senses.
Our group of 6 became so comfortable at ONOIR that we sat and talked in the dark for another 15 minutes after we finished eating.
Aside from the delicious food and the totally unique experience, the service was fantastic and I highly recommend this to anyone who wants to experience what being blind is like for a couple of hours.
I am so grateful to have all of my senses and this experience has inspired me to do more with the gifts and abilities that I have available to me today. Despite the challenges in your personal, financial or professional life, I invite you to take some moments to be grateful for the gifts that you currently have.
Often we are so much more fortunate than we think we are.