Out came Ray. He was wearing all black and some killer dark shades. He welcomed us and let us know that once inside the door there would be nothing to hit/bump/trip over,that the entire area was the same level, and that – most importantly – we would not be able to see a thing.

Well, he was right. Julie, Krystal, Vicki and I spent the next three (yes, 1,2, THREE) hours in the pitch black with our blind server, Ray, bringing us course after course of deliciously smelling and tasting foods we never had the chance to see with our eyes. I would say that it was a bit difficult to find/cut/gather food onto our forks in the dark, but that would be a lie considering it took each of us about 3 seconds to give up and use our fingers. Come on – it’s dark – it’s not like anyone could see us! 😉

The place is called O.noir, and it’s in Montreal, Quebec, and the intent is both to help people gain a better understanding of what it’s like to be blind as well as give blind employees a chance to do something they’ve never before been given the opportunity to do. Plus, 5% of your tab goes to organizations who serve the blind.

When the servers moved around the restaurant, you could hear them calling out in the dark – Attention! Attention! (it sounds nicer in french…) so as not to hit the other servers walking about. He would bring us our food or drink and find us by our calling out our names and standing right next to us and explaining where he had set our food. Or when bringing drinks he would warn us and then touch the glass to our shoulder so that we could take it from his hand and guide it safely to the table and (hopefully) remember where we had placed it for when we attempted to have a sip.

The evening had its difficulties, of course. Everything took just a bit longer. But the benefits of the dark were absolutely worth it. You could smell when food was carried past. We deciphered the shape of the room by the sounds and their echoes. Julie and I shared food at one point, but first we had to stretch an arm across the (quite large) table and then pass the food while continuing to hold our first joined hands. Our tastebuds had to make up for our lack of site – and oh, but did they! Everything was exquisite! We learned that to hear one another across our massive table without the aid of lip-reading and body language that we had to cup our hands behind our ears. I think the darkness also encouraged conversations that would have been far too uncomfortable for a first-time meet & greet in the light.

Phenomenal. Not just your every-day theme restaurant!

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Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry, the philosophy which does not laugh and the greatness which does not bow before children.
-Kahlil Gibran

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