Last weekend, I had an exciting and interesting dining experience at Opaque in Santa Monica. Why was it interesting? Because you dine in the dark. Yes, in utter darkness.
My posts are usually filled with vibrant colors; most of my Instagram friends will attest to that. However this time around, I have no vibrant photos let alone any and I hope my written words will do this place justice.
When we arrived, we drove and walked past it because there were no signs - anywhere. There's a grey building with small, blacked out windows just with the number 2020 on it. The very old wooden door had some graffiti on it and was certainly not very welcoming. Lo and behold however, it was the right place. I made someone else go in first as if we were entering a haunted house (I refuse to participate in anything remotely related to haunted houses).
Beyond the mysterious storefront was a dark lounge with a club-ish vibe; plenty of seating, a full bar and neon lights. We were welcomed by the hostess who seated us and explained how the dining room worked. The menu is pre-fixed and is $99 per person before taxes, excluding drinks. We could see the menu and choose items from it or we could choose a 'mystery' course. We chose the mystery course so we could have the full experience.
One particular fact about Opaque that impressed me the most is that all their waiting staff are legally blind. I can't emphasize enough how blown away I was with our waitress, Sena. She was so patient with us as we were lead single-file into the pitch black dining room and even more so as we were making an embarrassing attempt at maneuvering through our three-course meal. She guided us through where our water, bread basket, utensils were located and was always there when we needed her assistance.
I won't give away the entire experience in detail because I would really like to encourage everyone to go. The food was surprisingly delicious (we ended up with a Filet Mignon and Swordfish for entrees - yum!) despite some online reviews.
It was fascinating to feel our other senses working overtime, how difficult it is to gauge depth or size of anything, how unnerving it felt that your eyes didn't 'get used to it', how challenging it was to decipher what you were tasting and the list goes on, but it boils down to the realization of how much we rely on sight. It gave us a greater appreciation of how adaptive the visually-impaired are.
Whether you're on your first date or 100th, with a family member or friend, it forces you to communicate in ways you're not used to and I think that makes it a great bonding experience. It was one of the best and most unique dining experiences I've ever had and I can't wait to go again.
Have you ever been to Opaque or somewhere similar? How was your experience?
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