O.Noir — dining in the dark

Located on 620 Church St in Toronto

Betty and I tried out O.Noir.  This restaurant has been talked about for ages and has been on my to-eat list for ages too.  When I spotted a Groupon being offered, I immediately took the chance to purchase it.

We arrived on a weekday evening, having called in to book a table for the second seating at 8:15 p.m.  Neither of us knew what to expect but I was definitely excited to try out this type of unique dining.

O.Noir is a restaurant where you dine in the dark.  There are no lights in the restaurant.  It’s meant to allow diners to experience what it would be like to lose one of our senses, sight.  To make things more real, all the servers are blind.  This reminds me of my most recent trip to Signs Restaurant where all the servers were deaf and you had to use ASL in order to communicate to the servers of what you wanted.

Dark and creepy hallway at the entrance of the restaurant

When Betty and I arrived at the restaurant, we went down a flight of stairs.  Essentially, the restaurant is underground which means no natural light.  We got to a dimly lit hallway and used the restrooms before we checked in.  We were given a menu to choose from the prix fixe list of what we wanted to eat.

In each course, you could choose the ‘Surprise’ course.  I knew for sure I wanted one of my courses to be unknown to me, so I picked it as my dessert.  For appetizer and entree, both Betty and I chose the calamari and filet mignon, respectively.

After we informed our server of our choices, we waited for our server.  His name was Nasir and he brought us to our table.  I put my hand on his shoulder to follow him in and Betty had her hand on my shoulder.  We passed through two doors (in order to keep all light out of the dining room) and were led to our table smoothly and relatively flawlessly.

Nasir instructed us to feel the back of the chair at our table before having us sit down.  He explained to us what was on our table.

Since the dining is all experienced in the dark, there are no foodie pictures in this review! This is the photo that most people snap to say they’ve been at O.Noir.. hehe

The room was pitch black.  I’m talking REALLY pitch black.  You couldn’t see a single thing in front of you — not even your own fingers.  It was really weird.  I felt around in front of me for the plate with a container of butter on it, the butter knife, and my fork and knife.

Nasir brought our drinks (just water) for us and had us place it to the side (where there was a wall).  It made the experience more comfortable knowing there was a wall to my left.

He walked around to bring us bread which we took from a basket.  It was easy this way.  I surprisingly didn’t find buttering the bread that difficult..until Betty told me she was just dipping her bread into the butter since it was easier than using the knife.  I ate more butter with my bread than I usually do (since I couldn’t see how much I was using — lol).

Next up, our appetizers came!  Nasir handed the plates to us and we put it on our table ourselves (makes so much sense!).  The Grilled O.NOIR Octopus with Olive Oil and Lime was doused in tomato sauce that had a slight bitter taste to it.  The grilled calamari was mildly warm.  I would have preferred it more if it was hot, more flavourful, and the fried type..haha.  There were a lot of pieces of calamari too.  I ended up using my hands to eat since the fork and knife seemed like I was stabbing at random spots on my plate.  Betty was brave and used her utensils like a normal meal.

This definitely was a unique dining experience!

After Nasir took away our appetizer plates, he came back shortly with the entrees:  O.Noir Filet Mignon Served with Potatoes and Vegetables.  The steak was already cut up for us.  I felt around my plate and I could feel the meatiness of the steak, the stringy green beans, the rough and round potatoes, and gravy sauce on the side.

The filet mignon itself was yummy!  I absolutely enjoyed the gravy but I also think it could have been more hot.  The best part were the green beans; they were so crunchy and flavourful!!  The potatoes were just okay.

I’m usually a slow eater and when it came to this experience, I found out I ate even slower than usual!  There was nothing to look at and I savoured every bite.  Betty sped through her meal while I was barely halfway done when she informed me she was already done her plate.  It was so amusing to me to see how eating in the dark made me slow down my eating.

Finally, after Nasir took away our entree plates, we had our desserts!  I was especially excited to try mine since it was the Surprise Dessert!  Hehe.  Again, I used my hands since it was easier this way.  After the first bite of whatever it was in my hand, I knew what it was.  Should I spoil it?  I wonder if they change up their desserts?  Well, I’m going to share since this is my review :D.  It was cheesecake!  I can distinguish the unique flavour and texture of cheesecake anywhere!  Haha.  It was cut up already and in huge cheesy chunks.  It was quite filling!

After that, I remember telling Betty that I couldn’t wait to get out of there.  Besides the pretty good food, I couldn’t take not seeing or doing anything anymore.  I felt so bored.  There was nothing to look at.  Once Nasir came around to collect our dessert plates, we told him we were ready to leave.  He took us out the same way, with our hands on shoulders.  Walking out, we were semi-blinded by the (not even bright light — remember the dimly lit hallway?  No wonder they dim it that dark.  Even having been in a pitch black room for 2 hours or so was a big impact for our eyes to adjust to light again.)

We went back to the room where we chose our food to pay.  Gratuity at O.Noir has a mandatory 15% service fee, something that we both felt was pricey.  Nevertheless, it was a valuable and unique dining experience.  I’m certain I’m not going to rush back to O Noir anytime soon since it was a little awkward to dine.

Is it REALLY better in the dark? lol

Interesting things to note was how when I sneezed, someone in the room said ‘bless you’.  Lol.  It was funny.  It was also someone’s birthday in the room.  Nasir asked everyone to sing happy birthday to that person and it was so odd to have everyone’s voices magnified so well (there was nothing else in there to do except eat and talk so I’m sure our senses were heightened too).

Overall, the food was decent.  I didn’t think that the matter of taking away the sense of sight influenced the food that much.  It wasn’t particularly delicious.  However, on the flip side, imagine that if the food we ate WAS already enhanced by the lack of sight..that would mean the food really is horrendous lol.

Anyway, let me end this super long restaurant review by asking:  Have you tried O.Noir before?  Would you?  If you have, what was your experience like? 🙂

O.Noir on Urbanspoon

About stenoodie

I'm a stenographer, foodie, and avid traveller just trying to find her place in the world.
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2 Responses to O.Noir — dining in the dark

  1. Pingback: 2014 Reflection | stenoodie

  2. Pingback: Dinner at Allium in Ottawa! | stenoodie

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