Eater in the Dark


My mom just started her 43rd year of working at the Library of Congress. Right now she’s the Chief of the Network for the Blind and Physically Handicapped—going on maybe 15 years. I’m so proud of her. What does that have to do with eating and drinking in SF you wonder? Well, on Friday night I attended San Francisco’s first Dining in the Dark event put together by TasteTV and Million Dollar Dinner.

Servers equipped with night-vision goggles

Apparently the first pitch-black dinner was held in 1999 as a project of the Blind-Liecht foundation in Zurich with the intention of creating jobs for blind and handicapped people. In that case, the servers and wait staff were visually impaired; however, the latest take on pitch-black dining seems to focus more on the experience of dining without sight. The idea has caught on all over the world—Paris, London, Sydney, L.A., New York, Beijing and now San Francisco.

I was certainly skeptical about the whole thing—being a control freak and all; I’m not one who loves to “go with the flow.” The dinner took place at Fort Mason. They herded us into a room, which was dark, but once our eyes adjusted, we could see fine. We took our seats, then started noticing that it wasn’t pitch dark at all. Since there was no challenge in this, we all agreed to tie our napkins around our eyes like blindfolds. I ended up just closing my eyes because I had to keep my napkin handy—try eating without seeing, and you’ll see how messy it can get!

The dinner was three courses—with a salad, a fish, chicken or vegetarian dish, and dessert paired with a Silver Stone Pinot Noir from Paso Robles. Drinking was easy (once I found my glass, and thankfully didn’t tip it over). The hardest thing was picking up the food—I had to gauge my bites by the weight of my fork. More often than not, I’d either have nothing on my fork, or I’d have the entire plate’s contents on it. I just pray that nobody was peeking. (Our servers did have night-vision goggles on—oh the stories they must have!)

It’s undoubtedly a unique experience. Why they garnished our desserts with gigantic sprigs of mint is beyond me. I do know that I’m going to keep eating my carrots and hope that my vision holds out.

There are going to be two more dinners (Friday, September 28 and Friday, November 9) for $95/person. Check out the video.

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