New York, March 31 (Reuters): Call it the ultimate blind date.
The latest fad to hit New York City’s singles scene is “Dinner in the Dark”.
Imagine a gourmet four-course meal with champagne and fine wine — served and eaten entirely in darkness. Only the waiters, wearing night-vision goggles, can see what’s going on.
Promoters promise the dinner is intimate and diners lose their inhibitions in the pitch black, making it a great way to meet people.
It’s intimate, all right, and people definitely lose their inhibitions, as a recent dinner showed.
Whether anyone would want to meet these people, who acted more like high school students during a cafeteria power blackout than urbane urbanites, is a whole different story.
The least-impressed diners walked out midway through one “Dinner in the Dark”, while the happiest ones bragged afterwards about their conquests.
“It was great. You got to grope strangers, like that blonde woman right there,” said a 36-year-old business manager named Jeff gleefully. He also admitted to tossing pieces of bread at other diners under the protection of darkness.
“Dinner in the Dark” began innocuously enough. Thirty or so patrons, who paid $89 apiece, gathered in a downtown restaurant, sipping cocktails.
The organisers explained how the diners would be led into a darkened dining room, how they should feel cautiously for the food, how not to knock over their wine glasses and how to signal a waiter for an escorted walk to the bathroom.
Various diners volunteered that they shouldn’t or wouldn’t eat certain foods — mango, nuts, beetroot and chocolate. The organisers dutifully took notes.
Then, as soon as the diners were seated with the lights out, unable to see anyone or anything, the supposedly sophisticated New Yorkers somehow became anything but.
The dinner erupted into a melee of shouting patrons, crashing glassware and flying slices of bread. As plates shattered, diners burst into rounds of adolescent cheering.
A loud splash was followed by a woman’s shriek. “Ow. You spilled that all over me. I am so wet,” she said somewhere in the dark, obviously the victim of a misplaced, or misfired, drink.
As she tasted her first course, Jennifer, a 28-year-old financial analyst, whined: “It’s fishy. I hate that.”
The appetiser was a plate of sweet peppers stuffed with cod and served with guacamole in truffle aioli sauce. The two entrees were pan-seared sea scallops with butternut squash cake in mushroom cilantro sauce and roasted baby lamb in filo pastry with artichokes and tomatoes. And the dessert was butternut squash ice cream in a dark chocolate and truffle sauce.
Some diners defiantly lit cigarette lighters for illumination. Others booed, complaining it ruined the experience.
Nina, 31, a pharmaceutical saleswoman, said the man next to her, a total stranger, kept rubbing her back.
“I can’t stand that,” she said, adding that she was disappointed in the dinner after previous meals had won good reviews in online promotions.
The dinners are organised by Cosmo Party, which runs events for single people in New York City.
“It’s for singles who want to meet new people and for couples who want to have a good time,” said organiser Jerome Chasques. Cosmo Party has done about a half dozen “Dinners in the Dark”, he said.