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.

How To Get Souvenirs From A Place You’ve Never Been

A Box From Tehran souvenirs
ABoxFrom.com

Planning a trip to Tehran anytime soon? You probably aren’t, due to heavy restrictions on travel to Iran, but you can get a taste of Persian culture with a trip to your mailbox. ABoxFrom.com is a service that compiles a box of souvenirs from far-flung places (the previous box was from Seoul, South Korea) and mails them to you in beautifully-decorated boxes.

The Tehran box is 40 Euro, including tea, a paper map and a handmade basket. They may seem like ordinary objects, but each item was carefully chosen with the help of locals, and for its importance in the country’s culture and history, nostalgic and new.

Airplane Food Just Got Worse: Air China Serves Expired Food On Domestic Flight

Air China meal food poisoning
Flickr, bfishadow

Over 20 passengers on an Air China flight were sick after eating expired beef pancakes on a domestic flight to Beijing. One passenger shared a photo of the out-of-date food on Chinese social network Weibo showing the expiration date of October 2, four days before her flight. An official statement by the airline claimed that incorrect packaging was to blame for the “misunderstanding,” and that any leftover or expired food is regularly discarded. The passenger claimed that flight attendants refused to acknowledge the issue or warn anyone eating the bad meals.

Food poisoning is fortunately rare on airlines, but it does happen. Earlier this summer, Delta passengers on an Istanbul-New York flight suffered possible food poisoning and were met by medics on arrival at JFK. A Miami family sued American Airlines in 2011 after a man died allegedly due to food poisoning on a flight from Barcelona.

Read our advice on dealing with food poisoning while traveling, in the air or on the ground.

Dubai To Build World’s Largest Lagoon For $7 Billion

dubai
Flickr/travelourplanet.com

Dubai has a lot of big things. At 688 feet, the Dubai Eye will be the tallest Ferris wheel in the world and part of the $1.5 billion Bluewaters Island entertainment project. At almost 12 million square feet, the Dubai Mall sits in the shadow of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. Now, a multi-national company plans to build the world’s largest man-made lagoon to the tune of $7 billion.

The yet to be named project will be nearly four times bigger than the current largest lagoon and have swimming, water sports and other water based leisure activities. If all goes as planned, developer Crystal Lagoons Corp that holds patented technology for building giant crystalline lagoons, hopes that their project will quickly become a popular warm weather destination.

“Caribbean landscapes are no longer exclusive to tropical destinations,” said Crystal Lagoons CEO Kevin P. Morgan in an Economic Times report.

Crystal Lagoons has bigger plans, too. “Based on our track record in the Middle East, we have proven that our technology can add value to a top destination, making beachfront real estate a reality anywhere in the world,” said Morgan.

Yawning Travelers Rewarded With Free Coffee In Airport Ad Campaign



Goodness knows the number of times we’ve walked through endless airport terminals feeling like a zombie – jet lagged, disoriented, and in need of a serious caffeine fix. Well, a new airport advertising campaign is rewarding bleary-eyed passengers with a free cup of joe, just for yawning.

The Douwe Egberts company placed a coffee vending machine with facial recognition technology in South Africa’s O.R. Tambo International Airport. The machine was activated by yawning, and any passenger who figured out the trick was gifted a steaming hot coffee.The coffee campaign is just one of many kooky tactics being used by advertisers to target airport passengers. According to CNN, companies believe fliers are the perfect captive audience for advertising –- after all, we’re trapped in the airport, feeling stressed, bored and ready for a distraction. Not to mention that if you can afford a flight, you probably have a higher degree of disposable income to spend on whatever advertisers are trying to tempt you with.

The strategy is exactly what Heineken was banking on when it launched it’s “Dropped” campaign at New York’s JFK airport a few months back. The company gave travelers the chance to drop their current travel plans, spin a “departure roulette” wheel and travel to a new destination instead.