The very choice Mattgeeknz has written a guest review for us, because we knew we’d be unable to write a review about being blindfolded and sticking everything put in front of us in our mouths without being smutty about it.
Capitol and CBM have teamed up to host three blind-dining evenings in Wellington. The first was on Monday, and there are two more sittings on Monday and Tuesday next week. It’s a fun twist on the dining experience: you’re blindfolded for the entirety of your meal, and at the end of each course you’re told what you’ve just eaten.
After meeting at the Embassy and enjoying hor d’oeuvres and a glass of champagne, you’re taken downstairs in groups to the front of Capitol, where you’re asked to don a blindfold before you enter the restaurant. Once you can no longer see, the wait staff lead you to your table, and from there you begin to map out your surroundings.
With the blindfold on, your sense of space becomes greatly reduced. There are the things you can touch: the table, your wine glass, your water glass, and maybe a wall beside you. Your entire immediate world is defined by what you can feel with your fingertips. Beyond that there is merely a ring of sound – the muddled conversations of others – which gives you no sense of depth or distance.
The food is exceptional, and the wine well-matched. The meal has been designed to be finger-friendly, and every dish not only tastes unique but feels unique. The entrees are served in chinese soup spoons and shotglasses, while the mains and desserts are either served as-is or within sturdy ramekins. Without sight, you’re free to concentrate on flavours and textures. There was nothing served that a seasoned restaurant-goer wouldn’t happily eat, and aside from a couple of adventurous choices, they haven’t taken the opportunity to feed blithely unassuming diners a whole bunch of freaky gullets and organs. You’re in safe hands. Guessing what you’re being served is part of the fun, and if you’re right more often than wrong then you’re doing very well indeed.
There’s an opportunity to take off your blindfold between the entree and main courses. Although most people do, I recommend that you don’t – if you can stand it – as the intensity of smell, sound and touch is so greatly heightened by the time you get to dessert that it becomes the highlight of the whole experience.
Capitol have blacked out their windows so any uncoordinated efforts you have in getting food to your mouth are not seen by casual passersby. They have left small peepholes, however, so a sufficiently motivated person could wander past Capitol during the next sittings and take a peek to see what a restaurant full of fumbling blindfolded diners looks like.
By the time the meal concludes and you take your blindfold off you have a head full of memories, and not one of them is visual. They’re all auditory, olfactory or tactile: bursts of flavour, the stem of a wine glass, overheard conversations, or the touch of your wife’s hand from across the table. What I also found was that we had an extremely focussed conversation. Without visual cues our words had to be well-chosen if we wanted to understand each other.