The DARK DINING Dinner Party takes you into another realm of dining, one where all of your senses are expanded and focus on the food, the taste, the sound, the company and more...because you are dining without seeing.
Dark dining is not low light dining, it is no sight dining!TasteTV's food, wine and lifestyle editors have tracked this growing culinary experience across the globe and are now bringing it to Northern California and the San Francisco Bay Area. During the evening, for two entire hours, guests will eat, drink, talk, and enjoy entertainment without being able to see a thing. The flavors and textures of thir food will take on an entirely new dimension, as will the quality of their conversation (or perhaps of their dates).
The launch chef for these events is Chef Lisa Hines, owner of the Bella Cucina Cafe, and associated with Bravo's Top Chef program.
A TasteTV Dark Dining Dinner experience includes
- Before dinner Drinks
- A delicious Three-course meal by Chef Lisa Hines
- Tongue teasing Amuse bouche and Gourmet Cheese plates
- A featured Wine carefully paired to go with your meal
- "9 1/2 weeks"-style blindfolds to enhance the experience
- Vermeer Dutch Chocolate Cream Liqueur with dessert
- Some of the best dinner companions you can imagine
- A very sensual experience
DARK Dining SF will take place in September on Friday evenings at 8pm (and on HALLOWEEN), in San Francisco. Location information, and reservations, menu, and the chef's bio, can be found at the Dark Dining SF site, http://www.SFDark.com. For information about the Singles Chocolate Salon and the San Francisco International Chocolate Salon, go to http://www.SFChocolateSalon.com.
Official Website: http://www.SFDark.com
Added by A.K. at TasteTV on August 18, 2007
My review of the September 28th event:
I'd been familiar with this idea for a while and when I saw it on a friends page on upcoming.org it caught my interest. Seemed like it could be a great new experience. But then the high price ($95) and the simple menu started raising red flags and I wondered if this was a group that figured they could get away with lowered standards and higher prices because there would be enough high-concept diners in SF to foot the bill.
Despite that, I decided to risk being a sucker and try this out. While I can't say I regret it, I can definitely say I was right in thinking it would not be worth it and that it would be more of a fun social experience than a culinary one.
When we arrived, we stood around tables drinking all-organic lavender cocktails and eating reasonable appetizers (tuna in pastry and caramelized onion on pastry) with the lights up. Not bad, but about what I'd expect for any corporate function.
We then entered the large room and sat with seven strangers and the lights went off. Overall the food was not that impressive and I didn't really feel like the organizers had much conviction behind the concept. Next to nothing was done to connect our lack of sight to our greater appreciation of the food and the organizer had us play a game where we tried to recite back Shakespearean quotes from a book the organizer had compiled. All very random and amateurish. He almost never talked about the food, of which there wasn't much to say.
So, as for the food. We started with a shot of gazpacho which was the most interesting of the dishes, but knowing what it was and seeing it before we were blindfolded took away most of the mystery. It was peppery and spicy and had the interesting flavors I hoped for from all dishes.
The salad was a typical green salad with Parmesan, raspberries, and pecans. All fine and dandy, but nothing special. It was fun to try and eat the salad in the dark, but like most of experience, it came to show blindfolds make for great entertainment, but not necessarily great taste enjoyment. And eating with ones hands was also a highlight, though it felt strange to pay $95 to appreciate that luxury.
The main dishes were the exact sort of fair you expect at a hotel conference dinner for 1,000 people. Familiar and not bad, but certainly not great. My salmon tasted fine enough and came with a side of risotto that tasted like most risottos, good and slightly cheesy, but not the creation of a great chef. No one seem to have much to say about the quality of their entrees (chicken and a rice dish were the other options). I would have preferred worse tasting food even, if it was more interesting and you felt like the chef actually put their own sensibilities into it.
This was followed with a cheese plate that WAS really good. The blue cheese was really pungent and maybe more so because I didn't know it was blue cheese at first. There was also a familiar brie, pears with honey, and pecans.
We finished with a chocolate bread pudding that was tasty and I hadn't realized would be so chocolaty when the lights came up, but not a new experience or particularly great experience.
Overall I had a very enjoyable time and the lack of sight definitely lowered the groups inhibitions, but it mostly inspired me to want to put something like this on myself or to find more communal dining experiences. But if their intention was to open your eyes to new flavors by closing your eyes, I'd have to say they failed.