When I saw Dark Table show up on my Inside Vancouver app on Facebook, I was excited beyond reach. I had heard about Noir a gaziliion times when I was in Toronto and Montreal but I never had the time to experience it. I am so glad Vancouver now has this uniques restaurant of its own.
This restaurant has an amazing and meaningful concept behind it, I am very excited to share my experience with you all.
The restaurant opened on Thursday, I was luckily able to a reservation on some of the last tables for Sunday. I am proud to say I am one of the first people to experience this! That said, I think excitement set me up for very high expectations, for I was very slightly... disappointed.
BACKGROUND | "Already a hit in major cities like London, Paris, New York, L.A. and Montreal, blind dining is finally coming to Vancouver, offering a unique opportunity to experience dining in a whole new way—in the dark. An evening at Dark table will take you on a culinary journey through uncharted territory, where the familiar—food, drink and friends—becomes a wonder to be explored and discovered, as if for the first time."
TIPS & GUIDE |
~ Dress warm but in layers. You wait outside, and fall weather is rather chilly. But the restaurant itself I believe, has low outside ventilation (windows and doors). I found it a touch stuffy, or maybe I was just nervous.
~ Do not wear anything super expensive. My friend's blob of butter fell off the container and she found it later on the edge of the table, one can only image what would happen if it fell onto clothes.
~ Do not wear any high heel shoes or flip flops. It is rather had to navigate, do not be burdened down with the hassle of platforms and stilettos. Secondly, one customer knocked a glass on the floor, they did not turn on the lights to clean it... benefit of the doubt, they had someone with night vision goggles come in to fix it. Still, feet shuffling is advised over taking large steps.
~ Do not bring large bags, or put it under your chair. I brought a smaller bag that fit between me and the chair, but large bags on the floor is a hazard to those walking around the restaurant. Also, I am paranoid for theft, keep things close to you and you won't be worried.
~ Do not bring children who cannot sit still for an hour and a half. The servers are you to pass the plates around and well, obvious hazards.
~ Wash your hands BEFORE dinner. The salad is quite hands-on as I try to figure out what I am picking up with my fork.
~ There is a dim light in the washroom. The server will lead you there and come back in a few minutes. I went to the washroom just to experience walking in the dark again...
OUTSIDE | We were greeted outside the door (you wait outside, so dress warm) and handed menus to pick either 2 courses (entree plus appetizer/ dessert) or all 3 courses. Both the appetizers and desserts are "surprise" items - this got me very excited. The entree has quite a wide variety, but the peppercorn steak stole my heart. Then the hostess asked if we would like a drink and pointed to the second page.
Here was the first problem. Water was $3.00. Ummm what? A glass of water is $3.00?!! If I do not order a drink, will I have nothing to drink? Pop/Perrier were $3.50, assorted Virgin cocktails were $4.50-5.00. So... I thought, since water was $3.00, I might as well order a Perrier. (By the way, there is no alcohol, I suppose either for licensing reasons or security reasons, probably both). It was not until 45 minutes into our dinner were we offered "water", free of charge. So, maybe I did not have to order a Perrier for $3.50, I could have just asked for tap water. In hindsight, I should have asked the hostess what "Water $3.00" meant. Perhaps "Distilled water $3.00" may have been better diction? Still, $3.00 for one glass of water was rather pricey. But yes, there is tap water for free!
INSIDE | If you all haven't already guessed, yes it was a very "dark table". The entire restaurant is black.We were kindly led by Amy, in my opinion one of the best servers I have ever encountered. I was slightly insecure when we were in the dark. I was first in line and had place my hand on Amy shoulders as we choo-choo-trained to our table. I was so terrified at first I felt myself squeezing her shoulders till she made fun of me and until we introduced ourselves. Amy had a great personality, we chatted about how opening day was, and even how she knew her way around (She was trained for many months).
The one downside were two particular spots of light. There were doors at the back of the restaurant, lighted by the sun, showing two odd rectangles of light. Secondly, the entrance. Everytime someone came into the restaurant, the doors would open and you could see a good half of the restaurant in light. Its actually quite an easy fix. I guess I'm just picky.
FOOD| Dark Table is not fine dining, so do not expect fine dining quality. The salad and steak are very average, very generic. The cutlery and presentation is also very average. (I may not be able to see, but I can certainly feel the weight of cutlery and glasses and the way the food is positioned). The food is pre-cut, which... well I think would have had more of an interesting experience cutting, even though I'd probably make a huge mess. Next time however, I may choose to skip out on the dessert, it was far too sweet.
Come for the experience and enjoy figuring out the ingredients.
Have fun! Have fun stealing your friend's fork or bread as a good laugh! Keep it clean and do not be afraid to use your hands! I agree that a restaurant with such a simply concept is quite hard to organize and administer. But the servers are absolutely amazing, their personality, their sense of humor, they are such a delight.
Enjoy every minute of the experience, the dinner goes by very quickly.
Good luck and Have Fun!
2611 W4th Ave