Dark Table's chefs create some delectable cuisine, but you're unlikely to hear anyone say it looks good. That's because not a single beam of light penetrates the restaurant's dining room. Not from interior lights, not from the streets, and not from electronic devices. In this darkness a new experience awaits, one that relies on the staff of blind or visually impaired servers. They lead customers to tables, help them to washrooms, and retrieve gourmet cuisine from the kitchen (which is lit, though diners never see this). Upon returning, the guide servers announce the arrival of preselected entrees such as veal schnitzel, peppered garlic prawns, or—for indecisive diners—surprise dishes left to the chef's discretion.
Dark Table's owner, restaurateur Moe Alameddine, drew inspiration for this culinary adventure from a Swiss gentleman named Jorge Spielmann. Blind, Mr. Spielmann wanted others to experience his world—if only for a brief moment. So, he blindfolded some friends and served them a meal. The results were captivating. Deprived of sight, his guests claimed that their remaining senses were heightened. Flavours seemed more complex, and conversations became more intimate and less focused on the colours of everyone's socks. But most importantly, social roles had been reversed. The diners had to put their complete trust in their host.
And aside from gourmet food, this role reversal is what Dark Table is all about. The non-sighted servers are empowered, and for 90 minutes, each diner lives life as a blind person. For Alameddine, this experience is a chance to raise awareness about the blind and abate the high unemployment rates within this community. To the latter point, he hires servers in a partnership with CNIB, an organization that helps blind or partially sighted Canadians achieve independence.