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-course mobile gourmet meal served aboard NYC subway car



Pop-up
shops, hotels, and restaurants are all the rage, and dining cars are standard on most long-distance trains but what do you call a pop-up restaurant on a subway car? Earlier this month, a 6-course mobile gourmet meal was served on board a New York City subway car by supper club A Razor, A Shiny Knife with participation from “culinary collective” and Gadling favorite Studiofeast. Diners rode from Manhattan‘s 8th Avenue station on a Brooklyn-bound L train, feasting on caviar, fois gras, and filet mignon, all in under an hour. Courses from several supper clubs were prepared and plated before getting on the train, and perfectly timed to be served by waiters boarding at specific stops. A maître d’hôtel oversaw the luncheon, refilling water glasses (no alcohol allowed as per the MTA) and helping to stabilize makeshift “tables” tied to subway poles with twine.

The full menu posted on Studiofeast‘s website included:

– Hamchi Crudo, Bone Marrow, Trout Roe, Laproaig, Sweet Lime
– Foie en Brioche, Port Wine, Raisin,
– Ramp, Black Garlic, Cippolini, Morel, Thyme
– Petit Filet Mignon, Pomme Puree, Asparagus
– Pepper Jam, St Andre
– Chocolate & Gold Leaf Panna Cotta, Raspberry

The twelve lucky foodies (including two “walk up” visitors from Argentina pulled in to cover no-shows) were treated to the gourmet meal which cost an estimated $1,600, ending with gold-leaf-dusted panna cotta. The subway authorities were not satisfied customers, though no one was arrested or fined for the stunt. “Subway trains are for riding, not for holding parties,” said Charles F. Seaton from the MTA.

Event organizers have yet to announce their next meal-on-the-go, but the video hints at another unlikely location: San Francisco’s Alcatraz. Hoping for your own moveable feast? The Dinner in the Sky team is available for rent around the world.