Silent Dining: The Latest Restaurant Gimmick?

Silent dining restaurant gimmick
Flickr, Monika Bargmann

Banning cell phones in restaurants is becoming more common, as diners who constantly use their phones to chat or document their meals can be a distraction to other customers. A Brooklyn restaurant is taking things to the next level by banning talk altogether, piloting a “silent dining” event in which no one speaks for a 90 minute meal. Last month there were 17 diners at Eat participating without words in the first of what may become a monthly event, and after a chance to inform servers about allergies, there was total silence. The managing chef was inspired by silent meals at a monastery he visited in India. The restaurant serves only organic local food, with all furniture and decor also made by local artisans.

Is this a welcome concept, or just another gimmick in dining?

A San Francisco restaurant is often silent, but it’s not a gimmick, it’s run by a deaf couple with a some hearing-impaired staff. Patrons can communicate in sign language, or like many of us do in foreign countries, by pointing and writing. Owner Melody Stein wants Mozzeria to be known for its pizza, not as a deaf restaurant, and they have many repeat customers both hearing and deaf.Dining in the dark has been a trend for awhile, with restaurants in the U.S. and in Europe promoting an experience of eating without sight. Many of the restaurants employ blind waiters who are trained in serving sighted customers who are plunged into a pitch black restaurant or blindfolded. The idea is to heighten the other senses, but the reality can be more terrifying than tantalizing.

Like your steak with a side of vertigo? For a thousand bucks or so apiece (plus catering costs), you and 21 friends can be hoisted up in the sky on a crane to try Dining in the Sky. Started in Belgium and France, the table can be rented all over the world.

A truly moveable feast was hosted on a New York City subway for 12 diners. Waiters served six courses at stops between Manhattan and Brooklyn, and the MTA was not amused, but no one was arrested or fined for the meal.

Would you try any of these unusual meals? Share your experiences in the comments.

6 Weird Ways To Get Your Food Served Around The World

Monik Markus, Flickr

Now that food trucks are a staple in pretty much every metropolis, people have to get really creative to think about how to serve food in an edgy manner. But from fries in a vending machine to sparkling water in a public fountain, there are plenty of places around the world that will make sure that you have an unforgettable eating experience.

1. Coin-operated Belgian Fries
If you want a cornet of classic Belgian fries, look no further than a vending machine. A coin-operated machine in Brussels has been specifically developed to produce fries made with beef fat. And yes they do come with an option of ketchup or mayonnaise.

2. Ice cream from a monster truck
You’ve seen food trucks, but have you ever seen a monster food truck? Czech carmaker Skoda turned a 5.5 ton van into an ice cream truck, deeming it the “world’s largest ice cream truck.” It has five-foot tall tires after all. You’ll find it touring around the UK.3. Vending machine champagne
In Berlin you can get your bubbles from a vending machine. The gourmet food vending machine at delicatessen Floris Feinkost not only has pint-sized bottles of champagne available for sale, but also Dutch stroopwaffels and flavored salts. That’s what you call one stop shopping.

4. Sparkling water from a fountain
It would seem that only in Paris would you be able to get sparkling water from a fountain (which you can do at three different parks in the city) but earlier this year even Australia tried one out, with the city of Perth using a sparkling water fountain on a three-month trial.

5. Carry-out bacon bar
A restaurant isn’t such an odd or intriguing thing, but a carry-out bacon bar is. In Chicago you now know exactly where to order your bacon when you’re having that random craving thanks to Burke’s Bacon Bar which offers up mini sandwiches stuffed with bacon. As chef Rick Gresh said, “Bacon could be the one legal drug, because once you taste it you’re hooked.”

6. The in-car rice maker
Want food on the go? For those looking for a little more homecooked of a meal while they’re traveling, you might want the new Japanese in-car rice cooker. That’s right, you can now prep your sushi rice while you drive. Could be useful when you’re running late on dish prep for a dinner party.

Tourists Line Up To Sniff Stinky Plant In Belgium

Yves Logghe, AP

Looks can be deceiving: it may be beautiful, but this giant flower smells like rotting meat. The corpse flower (or amorphophallus titanum, if you want to get scientific) is the largest and smelliest in all of earthly flowerdom. Native to the Sumatran rainforest, many botanic gardens and private collectors cultivate the plant. However, it blooms infrequently, so getting a chance to take a whiff is rare. Which is why tourists in are lining up to see it during the three days it’s blooming at the National Botanic Garden of Belgium. The museum is even staying open late so more people can take in its fleshy aroma.

In case the picture doesn’t portray the plants awesomeness, here are some facts about this amazing flower:

  • It has been known to reach up to 10 feet in height.
  • Its meat-like smell’s function is to attract the carrion-eating beetles and flesh flies that pollinate it.
  • Its leaf structure can reach up to 20 feet tall and 16 feet across.
  • Its corm, or underground storage stem, typically weights around 110 pounds.
  • It only flowers for a short period of time, usually three days.
  • Its more popular name, titan arum, was invented by a BBC broadcaster who thought saying amorphophallus titanum (translation: giant misshapen phallus) would be inappropriate.

48 Hours In Brussels: 5 Budget-Friendly Things Not To Miss

Anna Brones

Beyond beer and the European Parliament I wasn’t sure what Brussels had to offer. Oh wait, waffles, there had to be waffles.

Brussels often gets a bad rap. Maybe it’s because one of the iconic tourist symbols is a statue of a peeing boy, or maybe it’s because in having the headquarters of several major IGOs, it has a very business feel, but either way, if you choose to skip Brussels you’re missing out.

It may not have the quaint charm of Amsterdam or the romanticism of Paris, but spend a weekend in Brussels and there is plenty to do, even for those traveling on a budget.
%Slideshow-2897%

Only have 48 hours? Make sure these five budget-friendly activities get added to your to-do list.

1. A visit to Cantillon Brewery
As soon as you step into Cantillon, you know you’re in a brewery. Located off the beaten path near the South Train Station, it has been open since 1900, and barely anything has changed since then. The musty smell of yeast hangs in the air and the tasting room has barrels in the place of tables. If you’re into craft and specialty beer, this is the place for you. You can taste a variety of their lambic beers and it will cost you much less than a night out on the town. Buy a few bottles to take with you on your way out.

2. Eat fries at Maison Antoine
Whether it’s midday or late night, you can’t leave Brussels without stopping by the frituur Maison Antoine for a cornet of Belgian fries. Pick your sauces of choice and eat your fries on the go, or take your cornet to one of the nearby bars on Place Jourdan, which have no problem allowing you to sit down and enjoy your fries with a beer.

3. Explore the city’s comic murals
There are over 30 different comic murals around Brussels. Print off a map of all of them and start exploring; it’s an excellent way to check out the city and get a taste for the country’s comic tradition.

4. Get a rooftop view
There are a couple of places in Brussels where you can get pretty stunning views over the city. Start with the glass elevator at Place Poelaert. In the summer, the Beursschouwburg opens up its rooftop terrace for both movie nights and a picnic space everyday at lunchtime and if you’re a fan of urban gardening, you’ll want to check out the rooftop garden at the Royal Library. You can also hit up the Museum of Musical Instruments‘ rooftop restaurant for an afternoon coffee or beer.

5. Visit Parc de Bruxelles
Created in the late 18th century, Parc de Bruxelles has a classic European park feel to it and it’s right next to the Royal Palace. It’s perfect for a picnic or an afternoon stroll. If you’re visiting in July, with all of the official festivities, it’s a good place to be for Belgium’s National Day on July 21.

Bruges: 7 Reasons The ‘Venice Of Belgium’ Is Worth Visiting

Anna Brones

The only memory I had of the Belgian city Bruges was thanks to the black comedy film “In Bruges,” where the city is more or less equated to some form of purgatory. The only image I had retained was a grey, misty and dismal city with not much going for it.

Not the case.

An easy day trip from Brussels, Bruges is worth your time, and not just if your obsessed with waffles. If you’re lucky, the sun will be out and you’ll find out exactly why this picturesque European town is called the “Venice of Belgium.”

Anna Brones

1. It’s a bicycle heaven, reminiscent of other bike capitals like Amsterdam and Copenhagen, only smaller and much more manageable. There are several bike rental operations in town as well as bike tours.

2. You can eat your weight in waffles. However, although waffles are easy to find, not all are created equal. Make sure you buy yours from a place that makes their own batter and makes the waffles right in front of you instead of heating them up.

3. Nothing is more classic than the rooftops of Bruges, and the city is perfect for anyone interested in architecture.

%Slideshow-752%

4. Bruges is on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. Thanks to its Gothic center, there’s plenty to explore from the Belfry, dating back to the 1200s, and the Burgh square in front of town hall.

5. You can dive into the world of Belgian beer on pretty much any corner. If you’re a beer connoisseur you better get ready; the options are endless and it’s good to choose carefully. Here’s a good roundup of a few of the best.

6. It’s quainter than Brussels. Yeah, I said it, and although most of Bruges looks like it could be the subject of a postcard collection, you never get the feel that it’s overly touristy. There are just as many Belgians out for a day trip on weekends as foreigners.

7. You can tour the city by boat. There are few cities that are lucky enough to be built around canals (hello, Venice) and snagging a boat tour is a perfect way to explore all the ins and out that Bruges has to offer. So when you’ve had enough of walking or riding, track down a canal tour.