Although most people would agree that they like to know (i.e. see) what they’re eating, Zurich’s Blindekuh (Blind Cow) finds this unnecessary for the dining experience. Set up by the Blind-Leicht (Blind Light) Foundation, this restaurant began with the aim to help the blind or visually impaired find employment. From there, they thought, if the servers cannot see the food they serve, why should that luxury be afforded to the diners? Thus, the idea for a dark restaurant evolved, where the only sense necessary is taste. The concept has since evolved into heightening the experience of taste, while taking away unnecessary distractions like light – and sight.
In 1999, the first dark restaurant opened in Zurich on Mühlebachstrasse 148, and soon won the Social Innovations Award in 2005 for its revolutionary new concept in dining. Since then, there have been many copycats around the world – but if you are in Zurich, make sure you make time to visit the original. Today, there are also a variety of cultural events held at
Blindekuh, including music concerts and book readings. All of these are held to emphasize the importance of our other, underused senses, like sound and taste.
Entrance is through the reception area, where you will find a large projection of the night’s menu. (There is usually a set menu, which changes every few weeks, and the prices are set for lunch or dinner.) Diners don blindfolds outside before entering the main restaurant area. Visitors are then led in by the waiters, who will help them be seated. In the dining room, there are Braille menus for those who can read it. No need for niceties as servers are simply beckoned by calling out their names.
The menu features three courses, which are the usual Swiss fare. The fish soup is a popular favorite when it’s offered. Most diners find it easier to put down their forks (it’s a bit awkward to poke your dining partner with silverware) and use their hands. This is exactly the aim of the restaurant – to leave niceties and manner at the door and appreciate food without all the frills of dining etiquette.
If you aren’t ready to commit to a full meal in the dark, try the Blindekuh bar before you dine there. Here you can get anarray of bar snacks and cocktails, and all the same rules apply as in the dining area. Because this is a popular spot, make reservations (even for the bar) before heading over to guarantee yourself a place in the dark.