Yesterday we ate dinner in a very special restaurant. "Blackout", part of the Na Lagaat center, is a restaurant that is completely dark (and I mean completely), with blind waiters serving the food. It was a very unusual experience.

Now some more details. Na Lagaat is located in old Jaffa's port. It was opened in December 2007, so it's very new. You can also go for a show (it has a theater right next to the restaurant) with a cast of blind and deaf actors. For some reason, however, the hours of shows and restaurant meals are mutually exclusive, so you can't do both in the same day. I hope they'll change it in the future. If you plan to go, don't look for parking in the old Jaffa area, but reach the center itself. It has ample parking around it. We didn't think it would, so we cruised for 25 minutes until we managed to find a parking spot 10 minutes walking from the restaurant.

It's not a normal restaurant where you can just walk in whenever you like. For now it works only 3 days a week (Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday) and has two "sittings" - at 19:00 and at 21:30. Places must be booked in advance (they've told me they close a list a week in advance) and you should get there at the designated hour. After a short explanation, you deposit all your stuff in a safety box, and are led by your blind waiter into the dark part. As I mentioned before, the darkness inside is absolute. I don't think I've ever experienced anything like this (well, maybe waking up in a very dark place) - you can't see anything, no contours, no shadows, nothing. With open and closed eyes everything looks the same. It's quite a shock in the first few minutes.

Blackout serves 3-course meals. You can either select your meal in advance from a menu (this is done in the lighted part, before you enter) or ask for a "surprise". We picked the first option. It's a gourmet restaurant - the food came in small servings but was very good. The other option, "surprise", looks like the better one in hind-sight. When you get served the food, you can't see it, so you have to guess what it is. If you know in advance, it's less fun. Even in the normal meal, the waiter brings one surprise (sorbet) between the first and main courses, and this was the most fun part for us - trying to guess what's in there ! We managed to pour our own drinks, but ate most of the food with our hands (but no one saw us do it!) because using a fork & knife in darkness is quite challenging (and probably dangerous).

A fun aspect of it is the privacy you have. We had another pair sitting in front of us in the table, but this didn't bother us in any way. Sure we could hear them, like the other people around us (some of them too well, as there was a large, noisy group sitting somewhere close to us), but since we didn't see them we felt like we're alone. This privacy is really nice - you rarely have it in restaurants.

When you come out of the dark part, there's another shock of getting adjusted to the light. You get a cup of nice tea and pay for the meal. At 140 NIS (drinks not included) per person, I don't think it's expensive for so special a gourmet restaurant.


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