Blindekuh – World’s First Dark Restaurant

June 12, 2008 at 7:02 pm (Food)


Blindekuh’s reputation as a novel, concept restaurant has spread so far that I was told to book a few months in advance. Knowing that it would be a long shot, I decided to try my luck, just three weeks before travelling to Zurich. To my amazement, no sooner than I had filled up an on-line reservation request, I received a call from Blindekuh.


Since I had mentioned my Paris address on the booking form, the caller spoke to me in French. I was told that the requested date was not available. After some dogged persuasion, I managed to reserve a table for two on the same day we were due to arrive in Zurich.


At Blindekuh in Zurich, which is the world’s first dark restaurant, diners eat in absolute darkness. You may ask why.


The restaurant is run by Blind Liecht Foundation which is a not-for-profit organization of  visually impaired people whose mission is to help people to gain insights into the condition of blindness.


Blind Liecht Foundation was the brainchild a blind clergyman called Jurg Spielman. Along with Stephan Zappa (a partially blind psychologist), Andrea Blaser (a blind social worker), Jurg Fluck (a blind doctor) and Thomas Moser (a blind singer), Rev. Spielman founded this organization in 1998. Blindekuh (in German, it means ‘Blind Man’s Bluff’), the restaurant came up in Zurich one year later.


It didn’t take long for the concept to find takers across the continent.  London, Paris, Berlin, Frankfurt, Moscow, Hamburg, and Cologne – they all have their dark restaurants now. Blind Liecht Foundation itself has put up one more Blindekuh in Basel.


We landed in Zurich on a Thursday.  Headed for Blindekuh, straight from the hotel.


The restaurant is housed in an elegantly renovated church building. Once inside, we were surrounded by happy voices, just like any popular restaurant. There is a difference though. We just had to figure out where the voices were coming from without using our eyes. The restaurant must have been full to its gill with all its 60 seats taken.


A blind waitress didn’t just stop at leading us to our table, she even guided our fingers to the plates and cutlery. Since our vegetarian dishes were pre-ordered from a set menu, the lunch was served in no time.


Surprisingly, eating in the dark was anything but a struggle. When one sense was put to rest, the others rose to the occasion by bringing out their fabulous reserves of whose existence we had no knowledge. Perhaps, that’s why dim lighting is de rigueur in chic restaurants. Absence of light on the gorgeous looking food doesn’t make us salivate any less as our taste buds led by  imagination help us experience  visioning of food, at some mysterious layer of  our brain.


My husband and I had great time playing the guessing game. We had only the texture and taste to go by. Broccoli was easy to identify. But zucchini wasn’t. With so much cream around, one can’t make a potato from a zucchini. We topped that lovely meal with a superb mousse au chocolat. The food was as good as anything I’ve had in Europe.


For the meat eaters, Blindekuh have even more irrestibles. Its non-vegetarian specialties include spicy fish soup with saffron, home marinated salmon, air-dried beef with olive oil and Parmesan cheese, and chopped veal with rösti (a popular Swiss accompaniment made of potato).


After the lunch, we were led to a dimly lit conclave where we waited for a few minutes, preparing our eyes for the daylight outside.


A pleasant surprise awaited us at the cash counter. The friendly cashier behind the counter was none other than Rev. Jurg Spielman, the man behind the concept of Blindekuh!


Thanks to Blindekuh, to me the act of eating is now a fuller sensory experience. More importantly, I now view the reality as it appears to the blind to be just a different form of the same reality as it appears to me. I no longer believe that having more or less number of sense-gates changes the reality of what lies behind those gates.


– Ruchi Jindal


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