Blind For A Night: A Most Unusual Meal In Bucharest

Blind For A Night: A Most Unusual Meal In Bucharest

By |2016-07-21T23:47:58-04:00March 16th, 2012|Food, Romania|55 Comments

Food at Blind Restaurant, Bucharest

At first, the restaurant looked normal enough. It was somewhat small, with only 8 tables or so, but it was comfortable and seemed to have a cozy atmosphere. The only problem was that I had no idea what kind of restaurant I was sitting in.

My friend had invited me out for dinner the night I arrived back in Bucharest a couple of weeks ago but she refused to tell me where we were going or what kind of food we would be eating. It was to be a complete surprise.

And so, after a short taxi ride to a quiet residential neighborhood, my friend led me to a long, unmarked gray building, which we entered through an ordinary looking door. Immediately, a friendly waitress brought us over to a table by the window and we sat down.

My friend and I each ordered a hot tea and we began to catch up. Of course, with this being a surprise meal and my friend offering no hints whatsoever, my eyes did wander around the room from time to time, trying to find some kind of clue about what I was about to experience.

After a few minutes, I began to realize that the name of this restaurant was nowhere to be found inside (and I had not seen the sign outside either as my friend blocked it from my view) and even the decorations in the room gave no indication about the theme or cuisine to be served.

Blind Restaurant, Bucharest, Romania

We continued to drink our tea and talk for a while, and it wasn’t until fifteen minutes had passed that things began to seem strange. First of all, it occurred to me that we never received any menus apart from the drink list and that nobody at any of the other tables were reading menus either. Then, a male waiter suddenly appeared from a random door, approached our table, asked if he could take our jackets to the cloak room and then requested that we turn off our mobile phones.

And then he left…leaving me confused while my friend just sat there and laughed.

The male waiter soon returned, but this time he confused me even more because he was wearing a massive night vision apparatus on his head. Yes, you read that correctly. With a big smile on his face, he asked both of us to join him over in a darker area of the room where he proceeded to give us each a plastic apron, the use of which he highly recommended. So naturally, I put the apron on.

Then he instructed my friend to place her hands on his shoulders and me to place my hands on her shoulders. And off we went, around a corner and towards another room, which had been hidden from our view. It’s a good thing we were all holding on to each other because as soon as we entered this new room, we encountered complete and impenetrable darkness.

Stumbling through this darkness, we started taking left turns and right turns, following this lunatic with the night vision gear to wherever it was he was taking us. For all I knew he was leading us into an ambush where we would be attacked by a crazed army of night-vision junkies who would stab us with their swords, toy with our brains and leave us alone in this dark room until we bled to death.

Waiter at Blind Restaurant, Bucharest

Although, as we continued walking, I did hear some voices around us, and even some laughter, all of which proved to be somewhat comforting at the time. By the time the waiter had led us across the room, still in complete darkness, and literally placed each of us into a seat at what felt like a table, I started to relax. However, I did have some odd thoughts running through my head, such as…

Will I have to get naked? Will there be torture involved with this meal? Why am I friends with this person?

But once I felt the top of the table and realized that there were plates and forks and knives in front of me, I finally stopped wondering if I would be killed by a machete-wielding waiter while in the midst of taking off my pants.

“Are we really eating in such darkness?” I asked my friend. She didn’t answer me, so I asked the question again. This time she apologized because she had been nodding ‘yes’ without realizing that I couldn’t see her. We hadn’t even begun to eat and we were already running into issues.


This was all a part of my introduction to the concept known as “The Blind Restaurant”, which I think is one of the coolest restaurant ideas I’ve come across. It’s actually not about being in the dark. It’s about being completely blind. At no point could we see anything at all, not while eating our salads, not during the main course and not during dessert.

With the sense of sight completely removed, one faces a dining and social experience that is completely free of visual judgments. The concept might sound quite basic, but in practice, it’s much more intriguing than you would imagine and, for one and a half hours, I thoroughly enjoyed the unique sensation of relying on my other senses.

Sure, I spilled some wine as a result of not being able to see. I might have dropped some pasta onto my lap as well and even miscalculated the location of my mouth once or twice, resulting in pasta sauce and ice cream finding their way into my nostrils, but I don’t think I’ve ever laughed as much during a meal as I did that night.

And at one point, I even thought about taking off my shirt and placing tomato slices (I think they were tomato slices) on my chest, knowing that nobody in this place could see a thing. Luckily, I remembered the guy with the night-vision gear just before I unbuttoned my shirt and I decided to keep my clothes on in the end.

As for the food, it was quite good as well. Here’s a photo of the salad…

Blind Restaurant, Bucharest, Romania

And a photo of the main dish…

Blind Restaurant, Bucharest, Romania 2

While we’re at it, here’s a photo of the interior of the dining room…

Blind Restaurant, Bucharest, Romania 3

Not a bad looking place, right?

Once we finished the dessert, we simply had to raise our hands and wait for the waiter with the night-vision gear to collect us from our table and lead us out of the darkness. After returning to the world of light, we were then invited to once again take a seat in what turned out to be the ‘waiting lounge’ where we could finish our bottle of wine.

We sat there for thirty minutes chatting with the waitstaff about the restaurant’s concept while learning that there are other similar restaurants throughout Europe and in the US.

I personally love the idea of a “Blind Restaurant” as I really enjoy participating in activities that are a bit out of the ordinary or that involve doing things we simply don’t ever think about doing. Spending time and eating in such complete darkness definitely fits into that category.

And as you can see, there is no torture involved. But I am willing to bet that self-mutilation, in the form of having your face pierced in several locations by your misguided fork, is an all-too-common occurrence.

The Blind Restaurant – Bucharest, Romania

Have you been to such a restaurant before?

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  1. Gabriel May 29, 2013 at 8:38 pm - Reply

    Haha, that is awesome. I was in Montreal a couple of months ago with my gf Jade and she told me about a local place there that also does the same thing. Unfortunately due to time issues we didn’t get a chance to visit but she had been before.

    She told me that they cut the carrots into little round balls and cut everything weird shapes so it wouldn’t help when you guessed what you where eating.

    At the end of the meal did they tell you what you ate or did you figure it out?

  2. Stephen S. March 11, 2013 at 4:40 pm - Reply

    What a great idea. I would love to have an experience like that, though I have to say i would be a little skidish about not being about to see what I was eating.

  3. Alex Farca October 11, 2012 at 8:50 am - Reply

    You know I heard about it but I never been in this restaurant. I was in restaurants where you can eat without any forks and knives, just using your hands. I definitely should try this, even I like to see my food:). Adventure and unknown – your thoughts are delicious (Will I have to get naked? Will there be torture involved with this meal? Why am I friends with this person?) and the pictures are great :)))). Looking to the meniu it looks very good and I will give it a try … someday.

    • Earl October 11, 2012 at 3:15 pm - Reply

      Hey Alex – It’s well worth it and I just read that they changed their menu as well, offering an even bigger variety of choices. Definitely a great place to eat in Bucharest!

  4. Sam Cel Roman May 4, 2012 at 4:21 am - Reply

    Dar de unde stii ca mancarea arata asa? E doar o poza pe site-ul ei

    • Earl May 4, 2012 at 1:32 pm - Reply

      I don’t know what the food looked like, but it doesn’t really matter because it tasted good.

  5. Don March 30, 2012 at 2:26 pm - Reply

    I guess this is one time when you would want to be especially nice to the waiter. I cringe at the thought of how the employees could get revenge. The salad looks great. Is that topped with black olives?

    • Earl March 30, 2012 at 4:48 pm - Reply

      Hey Don – Good point! And I’m glad you brought this up after I ate there 🙂

  6. Laura March 21, 2012 at 3:47 pm - Reply

    This is so bizarre. I’ve never heard of a blind restaurant.

  7. Hans March 20, 2012 at 5:30 am - Reply

    I am outraged. These people employ waiters with infrared glasses when they could employ waiters who are physically blind. They simply stole the concept from the original restaurant in Switzerland (as mentioned on their website) but they do nothing in the spirit of the theme to support and help blind people finding jobs. They simply use the topic as a cheap thrilling gimmick.
    Shame on the owners and the managers. Please boycot the restaurant until they employ real blind waiters.

    • Earl March 21, 2012 at 11:41 am - Reply

      Hey Hans – It’s just the route they’ve chosen to follow. Every company in the world could do more to help out the handicapped or any other segment of society that could use some assistance so there’s really no reason to blame this one restaurant.

  8. Samar Dhillon March 20, 2012 at 2:24 am - Reply

    There’s a similar restaurant in Hyderabad, India. The difference being instead of “night vision” apparatus wearing waiters, the waiters in this restaurant are actually blind.

    • Earl March 21, 2012 at 11:17 am - Reply

      Hey Samar – Seems like there’s many blind restaurants around the world with blind waitstaff. It’s a great concept as well!

  9. Forest March 19, 2012 at 10:59 pm - Reply

    I’ve been to O’Noir in Montreal and it was an awesome experience. I ate the vegetarian surprise menu and didn’t realise how hard it would be to decipher what I was eating. When shown the menu after it all made sense. There are no night goggles in the Montreal restaurant as all the waiters are blind! My gf accidentally grabbed the waitresses breast trying to find her arm to be led to the bathroom! Lucky that wasn’t me that did that.

    • Earl March 21, 2012 at 11:16 am - Reply

      Hey Forest – Yes, it certainly is a good thing it wasn’t you who grabbed the wrong body part although I imagine it would be quite a common occurrence in such a restaurant!

  10. Kiten March 18, 2012 at 9:52 am - Reply

    Wow! I’ve always wanted to experience dining in a blind restaurant. 🙂 Good for you to have experienced this already! How were the dishes and what was your favorite? Your photos look enticing! 😉

    • Earl March 19, 2012 at 9:03 am - Reply

      Hey Kiten – The dishes were a salad with seafood, some sort of pasta/chicken dish and a chocolate mousse (which was my favorite of the three naturally!).

  11. Renee King March 17, 2012 at 10:02 am - Reply

    There is a similar thing in Atlanta called Dining in the Dark….all of the servers are blind or visually impaired.

    • Earl March 19, 2012 at 9:09 am - Reply

      Hey Renee – That place sure looks interesting as well…I guess there’s a few of these restaurants around the world where the waitstaff are also blind. Very intriguing concept.

  12. Matt March 17, 2012 at 1:10 am - Reply

    What an awesome, unique meal. I especially loved the pictures. Sounds fun!

    • Earl March 19, 2012 at 9:11 am - Reply

      Hey Matt – Well worth it if you ever find yourself in a city that has such a restaurant!

  13. Justin March 16, 2012 at 9:18 pm - Reply

    What an awesome concept! I will definitely have to try this. Takes a good deal of trust I would imagine.

    I wonder if there is a site that tells you where other blind restaurants are in the world?

    • Earl March 19, 2012 at 9:17 am - Reply

      Hey Justin – I haven’t found any site that lists them all…there was one but many of the listing on there no longer exist and it was far from complete. I’d definitely go to another one in a different country if I knew where they were..

  14. Someday I'll Be There - Mina March 16, 2012 at 5:20 pm - Reply

    I really like the idea…i think it would be alot of fun to do it someday! will look for it when abroad (i know its not available here)

    also i agree that it would make u concentrate more on other senses that u might not be using much

    • Earl March 19, 2012 at 9:19 am - Reply

      Hey Mina – That’s the cool part…relying on other senses. And after a short while, you don’t even miss having your sight. It’s incredibly easy to not only adjust but feel comfortable as well. Maybe you could start Cairo’s first blind restaurant 🙂

  15. Earthdrifter March 16, 2012 at 4:25 pm - Reply

    I’ve never heard of such a thing until now. The above plate looks good. The salad sounds healthy. I’m curious. Is it enjoyable to eat without being able to see the food? I wonder how different things taste when you can’t see what it is that you’re consuming. Maybe ’twas fun because it was different. Presentation can have a profound affect on taste.

    • Earl March 19, 2012 at 9:23 am - Reply

      @Earthdrifter – It was actually very enjoyable. Even though we were still talking and laughing, not being able to see brings an interesting ‘quietness’ to the experience. It made me realize how the constant chatter in our brains is the result of everything we are seeing and observing all day long…removing those visuals forced my brain to quiet down right away.

  16. Megan C. Stroup March 16, 2012 at 3:46 pm - Reply

    Great description! It sounds like quite the experience. I saw a blind restaurant featured on a television show once, but it was a sitcom so it was mostly about all the ridiculous things they did when no one could see them. Thanks for sharing!

    • Earl March 19, 2012 at 9:24 am - Reply

      Hey Megan – Haha…I can only imagine that people do attempt bizarre things while at these restaurants. I must admit, it was quite tempting to do something silly myself 🙂

  17. Suzy March 16, 2012 at 1:43 pm - Reply

    Sounds great, interesting, fun, experiment – what was the food like?

    • Earl March 19, 2012 at 10:20 am - Reply

      Hey Suzy – The food was very good. It wasn’t spectacular but definitely good enough to eat there again. And they have several set menus to choose from (my friend chose one without me knowing), with plenty of options.

  18. Idun March 16, 2012 at 12:53 pm - Reply

    That’s so cool! I’d like to try that sometime, although I’d probably drop half the food from misjudging where my mouth would be, seeing as I already do that normally when I actually can see….

    • Earl March 19, 2012 at 2:52 pm - Reply

      Hey Idun – In that case, you might as well just order drinks in the dark and forget the food altogether 🙂

  19. Scott March 16, 2012 at 12:45 pm - Reply

    I’ve heard of these, and the concept is interesting, but I am one of those people who wants to know and see what I am eating…so for me it would not work.

    • Earl March 19, 2012 at 2:53 pm - Reply

      Hey Scott – You can know what you’re eating ahead of time by ordering off the set menus. You still won’t get to see the food but that’s what makes this experience so fun 🙂

  20. sandy March 16, 2012 at 11:27 am - Reply

    About five years ago, we went to a Blind REstaurant in Merida, Yucatan which is no longer operating, by the way. We had a similarly hilarious meal. The main difference was here in Mexico, the restaurant hired blind men and women to be the waiters so no high tech gear was required to get us to the tables!! Eating salad with my hands since I would not get it to my mouth in the pitch, pitch, pitch dark is a memory I cherish. Glad you enjoyed your meal, too.

    • Earl March 19, 2012 at 2:54 pm - Reply

      Hey Sandy – That seems to be how many of these restaurants operate. And I don’t know why I didn’t think of eating my food with my hands! That would have been much, much easier 🙂

  21. Stephanie - The Travel Chica March 16, 2012 at 10:26 am - Reply

    Sounds like a cool experience. Great find!

    • Earl March 19, 2012 at 2:55 pm - Reply

      Hey Stephanie – Definitely a cool thing to try out!

  22. Dana de Brito March 16, 2012 at 10:20 am - Reply

    Wow – sounds delicious! I’ve heard of blind restaurants… but I’ve never had the opportunity to try one 🙂 Thanks for letting us know!

    • Earl March 19, 2012 at 2:55 pm - Reply

      Hey Dana – Well, if you find one and try it out, let me know how it goes. Hopefully you’ll miss your mouth a few times and spill a little wine as well!

  23. reina March 16, 2012 at 9:38 am - Reply

    I’ve been to the blindekuh (named after the game- blind man’s bluff) in Zürich- the world’s first “restaurant in the dark”. The original idea behind the restaurant was not only to provide an extraordinary dining experience, but also to create much-needed jobs for blind or partially sighted people. To this day a majority of employees are blind or visually impaired. No one uses or needs a night vision apparatus!

    • Earl March 19, 2012 at 2:57 pm - Reply

      Hey Reina – I heard about that one when I was doing a little research. It seems that many others have followed a similar route and hired visually impaired staff…as there are quite a few of these restaurants operating around the world. Hopefully I’ll have a chance to experience the one in Zurich at some point myself.

  24. Julia March 16, 2012 at 9:06 am - Reply

    This is great — I would have been scared witless, too! But it sounds frickin’ fun once you settle in!

    • Earl March 19, 2012 at 2:58 pm - Reply

      Hey Julia – It certainly was fun and the fear quickly vanishes once you realize what’s going on!

  25. Patricia GW March 16, 2012 at 8:26 am - Reply

    How cool! I’ve heard of these types of restaurants before, but not a first-hand account. I would love to dine at a blind restaurant too. I’m glad it didn’t involve any forms of torture 😉

    • Earl March 19, 2012 at 2:59 pm - Reply

      Hey Patricia – Yeah, I was quite happy that no torture was involved as well. I’m not sure if I would have enjoyed it as much 🙂

  26. Giulia March 16, 2012 at 7:35 am - Reply

    I always wanted to try the blind restaurant! But I can’t imagine what my reaction would be if a friend took me there without telling me:) I would definitely be happy of the experience but man it must be stressful!
    Oh and I loved the pic of the main dish! Hehe:)

    • Earl March 19, 2012 at 3:00 pm - Reply

      Hey Giulia – That’s the thing, add the darkness to the fact that it was a complete surprise and you can see why I was so confused and unsure of what was happening! And that main dish does look wonderful, right??

  27. Mark March 16, 2012 at 6:40 am - Reply

    Hey Earl!

    I have heard about this kind of restaurant. Actually, I believe there is one in Cologne where the wait staff is actually blind. I’ve not yet personally been there, but a couple of friends have been and they said it was quite the experience! Thanks for the blog! Much enjoyed! If you’re in the Ruhrgebiet anytime (we’re in essen), look us up! Would love to have a beer sometime!

    • Earl March 19, 2012 at 3:01 pm - Reply

      Hey Mark – That would make sense as I think there are a few of these restaurants that actually have blind staff. And it would be great to meet up the next time I’m in Germany…especially when German beer may be involved.

  28. Natalie @Turkish Travel March 16, 2012 at 6:37 am - Reply

    Sounds like a great concept. The taste senses would probably work more as well because sight is gone. Love the photos, they make the food look so delicious 🙂

    • jonbar March 17, 2012 at 12:43 am - Reply

      My first thought when I finished reading the article was “for a restaurant where you can’t see anything, they sure do put a lot of effort into making their food look amazing”. And I mean in that in all seriousness, assuming that the first picture (of the rice and shrimp) is from that restaurant, because it sure is making me hungry.

      • Earl March 19, 2012 at 9:13 am - Reply

        Hey Jonbar – That first photo is from the restaurant and you’re right, that is interesting that they put effort into making the food look good as well. I never thought of that and it surely would not have made much of a difference if it looked less attractive 🙂

    • Earl March 19, 2012 at 3:03 pm - Reply

      Hey Natalie – That is what happens…the taste of the food does seem more intense when you are forced to actually concentrate on every bite while you try to determine what you are eating. It makes more of a difference than we might think!

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