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By John Wesley Hardin
Photo credit: John Wesley Hardin

Blackout Dining in the Dark

One of Las Vegas’ most unique fine dining experiences is tucked away in a nondescript storefront in the shadow of the Rio.

It doesn’t look much like a restaurant from the outside; once you get inside it doesn’t look much like a restaurant either. The sleek, modern lobby has walls lined with art, a mannequin wearing infrared goggles, and a line of tablets where you sign a waiver indemnifying Blackout’s owners against any nervous breakdowns you may have while dining in their establishment.

Last Light: The Lobby

Photo Credit: John Hardin

Why would you need that? Built on the premise that the other senses are sharpened when the eyes are denied, Blackout Dining in the Dark offers Vegas diners the chance to experience a meal with every sense except sight. Your entire meal is eaten in a pitch-black dining room, served by friendly folks wearing military-grade night vision gear.

Night Vision Goggles

Photo Credit: John Hardin

You’ll only get one chance to look at the drink menu before entering the darkened dining room, so choose wisely from the list of  handmade cocktails and fine wines. What about the dining menu? Well, the first rule of Blackout Menu is, you don’t talk about Blackout menu, not until after the meal is over, at least. Blackout features a ‘mystery menu’ where you don’t know what you’re eating until it’s in your mouth, and perhaps not even then. 

Blackout staff will quiz you about food allergies or sensitivities and adjust your meal to accommodate as well as they can. After one last rundown of the rules, you leave your phones and light-emitting gadgets behind as you go through a “light-lock.” Your server guides you into the darkened dining room conga-line style, hands on the shoulders of the person in front of you.

As you walk through the room, you can hear the reassuring sounds of conversation, relaxing music and utensils on dishes. It sounds like a restaurant anyway, but within a few steps and turns, you can’t tell the direction from which you came.

The Dining Room

Photo Credit: Jacqueline Monahan

Once you’re safely seated, your server will leave you to your own devices while they fill your drink order, and that’s when it hits you: It’s dark. It’s going to stay dark; you can’t see anything except the occasional red, firefly-glow of the wait staff’s infrared goggles (“when the dot is facing right at you, your server is looking at you”) and you’re committed. You wonder where the emergency exits are, but you can’t even get up to go to the bathroom without aid.

Now’s a good time to take a few, deep, calming breaths and remember that waiver you signed. “Usually, we get a drink in them, some of that ‘liquid courage,’ and they calm down and go back to the dining room,” a server says of the occasional patron who can’t hang in the dark.

Signing the Waiver

Photo Credit: John Hardin

Your helpful server will tell you how and where to find the food on your plate, and will suggest the necessary utensil (fork or soup spoon) to help you transport the comestibles into your piehole in the dark (of course, there’s no judging if you decide to eat with your fingers or slurp right out of the soup bowl, it’s not like your fellow diners can give you disapproving looks). They’ll leave you in the dark as to exactly what each course is, letting you guess, and asking your impressions after each course. When the meal is over, you get to see the menu and learn how close you were with your guesses. 

Your Eyes for the Evening

Photo Credit: Doug Desroches

This is all a lot of fun, but how is the actual food? I’m bound by secrecy not to mention specifics but I can say that the menu changes seasonally, is vegetarian, (“plant based” per the Blackout website, no guessing at mystery meat here) and executed masterfully; every single dish stands on its own without the gimmick of being served in the dark. This is food you’d be happy to eat, even if you could see it.When you’ve had your fill of food and darkness, your server gathers you up one last time and you conga-line out of the restaurant, back into the light-lock, where dim red bulbs prepare your eyeballs for the shock of seeing again. Once you’ve recovered, you’ll get to examine the menu and confirm those elusive flavors that may have eluded identification in the dark. Then, feeling like a survivor, you walk out into a world that’s definitely brighter than it was before.

Blackout Dining in the Dark
Monday-Thursday
5pm-11pm
Friday-Sunday
12pm-11pm
 
3871 S. Valley View Blvd. Ste. 8
Las Vegas, NV 89103
TEL: (702) 960-4000
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Dinner: $79.95 per person for a seven course prix-fixe mystery menu.
Lunch: (before 4pm Fri-Sun) $59.95 which includes a five course prix-fixe mystery menu. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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