Opaque-A Sensory Experience

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When talking about a sensory experience there is one place that always strikes my mind first. Opaque, is a restaurant located in only in three locations in California. This restaurant is not the common gourmet restaurant; Opaque provides a unique and unforgettable sensory experience to each one of its customers.

Upon arrival customers are directed to a lounge were they can enjoy a few cocktails before dinner. Here, they are asked to check in all personal belongings and choose two different dinner options from the menu before proceeding to the main dinning room.  The dinning room is a pitch-black room where even the waiters are unable to see. Staff members are thoroughly trained to carry on with their duties without light but when needed they work with the aid of a night vision camera.

Dinner begins just as in a normal restaurant, but here the customer does not know which of the two dinner options they are being served. The idea behind this kind of experience is to enhance the other four senses while taking sight away. When the food is brought out the customer needs to touch around their table in order to find the silverware, napkins and food. At first, eating can be somewhat complicated, many have admitted missing their mouth with the food completely or hitting their nose instead of the lips with the rim of the glass. While trying to get the plate-to-mouth in the dark coordination, the senses of smell and taste are also being tested. Several have said that the food tastes differently because they are not relying on the appearance of the food to influence its taste. People tend to create certain expectations on how the food should tasted based on its appearance. Another sense that is affected during this experience is sound. While eating, the customers tend to engage with the people are seated with. Having a regular conversation is also a very different experience to perform in the dark. Trying to figure out who is saying what and where is their voice coming from tests the sense of hearing to a maximum.

After one or two hours of enjoying dinner in the dark, customers are allowed to leave and pay at the exit. Here they are also told what they were served. It is not surprising to find a customer that claim they ate chicken when in fact they had beef. By enhancing these senses the client becomes more aware of the importance of sight in such a common activity.

This space provides a very interesting experience because is takes an everyday activity and turns it into a complete overhaul of the senses. Not a lot of people realize all the senses used during this common activity, and while many will dislike this restaurant, others will remember it forever not only for its great food, but also for the unique sensory experience offered to the customers.

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