Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Blinde Kuh - Dining in the Dark...

For our first adventure with Sarah in Zurich, I booked us a table on Halloween night at the Blinde Kuh - literally the blind cow, but it means Blind Man's Bluff in German. I originally read about the Blinde Kuh on This Non-American Life - so thanks, Jul.

Basically, the premise is dining in the dark. And as the website claims, it was the world's first dark restaurant, started as part of a darkness themed expo and interestingly the servers are blind.
Blinde Kuh Restaurant - Zurich

I booked way in advance, probably three months ago and did so online. I received a confirmation then and a week before that I had to reply to in order to hold our spot. We had reservations for 19:00, and when we arrived the reception was pretty empty... which was fine because we were a bit nervous about eating in pitch black conditions.

Sarah at the Blinde Kuh
She was jetlagged and yet, amazingly, did not fall asleep at dinner! ;)

The reception and, thank heavens, the toilets are the only lighted areas. When you arrive you get a table number and a server's name, because the only way you will get something while in the restaurant is by calling the server. Again, you cannot see anything! You are essentially blind for the evening.

Hence, we also had to pick out our meal before hand. A handy projection of the evening's offerings was available in the reception in four languages.

Then you are also told multiple times to put EVERYTHING into a locker, because if you drop it inside the restaurant, you will never find it and hence never see it again. So we did as we were told, also depositing anything that emitted light - cell phones, watches, etc. as we understood that the experience would be ruined otherwise.... then we were taken to the cloaked doorway, our server was called, and we entered the restaurant via conga line, holding onto our blind server.

Now, I know I should not have done so... but I took my camera into the restaurant to get a few shots of the experience. I know. I am bad. But I figured you would want the full low down. So here goes:
As soon as we got into the restaurant, we were carefully seated at our table and we were greeted by another couple at our table. This is a picture of them. She is pregnant, but she doesn't look it. I know, she looks amazing for being 8 months pregnant. They were Swiss and very fun dinner partners.
The room felt really small, but only because we were the only people in the restaurant at the time and there was no way to orientate yourself. It felt like you were alone, surrounded by voices and nothing else... nothing until you started to feel around, recognizing your regular restaurant items - table cloth, utensils, plate, etc. Suddenly things were making a bit of sense. Later when the restaurant filled, we got a better idea of the size of the room and it is pretty big, photo above.

Here is a photo of our server, who returned to ask us what we would like to eat and drink, and thankfully she spoke some English. Everything was going great until I ordered the three of us veal and our server didn't understand... so I freaked and said... "Um... veal... how do you translate that? Um... Baby kuh?"... ice broken, three baby cows ordered in the dark. How fitting.

Here is a photo montage of the food we had - fish cerviche, veal cheeks with mashed potatoes and the most heavenly chocolate truffle cake with whipped cream. You probably didn't see the whipped cream next to the cake because I ate it all with my hands. Sorry. It was all delicious and we also learned that the chef can see... interesting, eh?

After dessert I couldn't help myself anymore... and that's when this happened:
This is a photo that Jace took of me blowing on Sarah. I was really quiet, and almost instantly she turned to me and said, "Did you feel that? What was that?!" and I said, "Huh? Feel what?" and then I couldn't keep my cool and I broke out laughing. Good thing we got it on film or else no one would know how funny I truly am. Hahahaha. ;)

Sarah found it pretty funny but said that she could smell my breath and knew the whole time that it was me. YUCK! :)

I admit, the experience was weird and amazing and fun and scary all at the same time. After awhile, you get used to the dark and learn to orient yourself around the plate and table. I cannot tell you how many empty forkfuls I took to my mouth, but eventually I figured out a method of shoveling and pushing around the plate until the food made it into my mouth.

I was afraid that perhaps Sarah and Jace would find the experience ridiculous, but we all agreed that it was really fun and interesting to be blind for the night and we chatted about our different experiences for the better half of the trip home.... much of our observations I have left out, because I think you will get more out of the meal if you experience it for yourself.

Hence, although the experience is not cheap, I would highly recommend eating at the Blinde Kuh in Zurich... it is really a once in a lifetime experience (ok, twice, we are taking you, Val!). You really should try it yourself sometime.... just don't forget to watch out for this:

Just kidding. There is absolutely no way to avoid THAT. So don't even try. ;)


Bluefish said...

There's a similar restaurant called O Noir in Montreal. I have yet tried it ut apparently it's expensive.

Michemily said...

I loved the pictures, so much detail, such high quality, and oh, the colors!

Adrian said...

I'm glad to hear that Blinde Kuh is still around.

I was there about 5 years ago with the office. We had a special arrangement with a "guided tour". They made a few funny games with us in the dark to test our senses. I can highly recommend that as well.

tqe / Adam said...

Your photos are exceptionally wonderful.

I really had a good laugh...

Sarah said...

Oh man, Jace got my bad side in that picture of you blowing on me! ;) That was a great night that I'll never forget. Thanks again!

Zhu said...

Beautiful pictures! The details are amazing - which camera did you use?


I think the same concept exists in Paris and in Montreal... I should try it. But with a group of friends, would be more fun.

Katerine-Lune said...

I ate at O.Noir in Montréal last month, and it was an amazing sensory experience. I even made an (albeit dark) video about it.

Have a look:


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