Published March 03, 2013
The 5 most unique culinary experiences in America
5 unique culinary experiences in America
Regular restaurants not cutting it? Take a walk on dining’s wild side.
Dans Le Noir, New York, NY
Dans Le Noir is the New York installment of the growing trend that is "dark" or "blind dining." Blind dining is exactly what it sounds like - eating in complete darkness. Dans Le Noir and its contemporaries claim that by blocking out sight, other senses will intensify - mainly smelling and tasting (on the downside, it’s probably not a great first date idea). Diners are limited to choosing a meat, fish, or veggie dish, and the chefs choose the rest of the wine/appetizer pairings. If being granted super taste and smell isn't enough, the wait staff is usually comprised of the blind or visually impaired and ten percent of the restaurant's overall profit funds research on visual disabilities. Don't worry, the staff is super helpful if you start to feel anxious, want to "see some light for Pete's sake," or your heightened 6th sense starts to pick up on all the dead people in the room.
Bors Hede Inne, Carnation, WA
Located in Carnation, Washington, Bors Hede Inne is part of the Camlann Medieval Village - a year round recreation of England in 1376. But this is no modernized (read: Americanized, i.e. Medieval Times) medieval restaurant. You are required to do a "genteel lavering" before the meal, and will be served authentic late medieval fare such as fenberrie pye (pork, fowl, fen-berries), sanc dragon (roast chicken in dragon's blood sauce), and of course an earthen pitcher of ale or mead to wash it all down. Instead of parading around on fire-breathing horses and wearing bosom-bolstering bodices, the wait staff strictly adheres to both authentic dress and narrative -- speaking their own personal "histories," like how the mead was brewed by the village ale wife or how "Edward the Black Prince was a bit of a blow hard anyway."
Moto, Chicago, IL
Tucked away in the Fulton River District of Chicago, Moto is one of the leading "molecular gastronomy" restaurants in the nation. Executive Chef Homaro Cantu produces "high-tech" dishes, which enlist lasers and liquid nitrogen to freeze food and produce things like carbonated fruit and edible paper. But the food isn't the only part of Moto that questions pragmatic restaurant culture -- the menu substitutes boring old "words" for bite-sized portions of the meal itself. That's right, the entire menu is brought to you in miniature form first, with the desert portioned into savory bits so you spoiled little brats out there don't stuff your face with the sweets first. Moto's sister restaurant resides right next door, and also hails from the same "eccentric" family, serving "flavor tripping cuisine" based on the miracle berry, which makes sour foods taste sweet.
Ghetto Gourmet, Your Place
Perhaps the most unique dining experience is the one you have in your home -- it's extremely exclusive, you're surrounded by all your favorite things, and you can even bring your favorite still-living pet! That's why Ghetto Gourmet made our list, as this "restaurant" doesn't have a physical location, but will instead enlist local acclaimed gourmet chefs to come cook a high end meal right in your kitchen. The company, started by Jeremy Townsend and his brother in Oakland, travel the nation to cook in houses, apartments, courtyards, or wherever else people offer up a stove and supplies. If you're cool enough to know they're coming to town, simply sign up online, bring some booze, something to sit on, and an open mind to new experiences, friends, and otherwise ostentatious gourmet food in a relaxed, literally "at home" environment.
Fritz's Railroad Restaurant, Kansas City, KS
Unlike people, who require things like money and feelings, trains will be your friends and/or servers for free, which is why the Fritz Railroad Restaurant in Kansas City employs the latter. Instead of blundering, babbling humans to take your order and bring your food, you simply call the kitchen (we can only assume the person taking the orders calls him/herself the Conductor) and place your order on an old-timey telephone. Then, without any interruption from nosey humans, a happy little obedient train will scoot along the intricate rail system to deliver your food, then leave without telling you how to experience your food with the ever-intrusive, "Enjoy!" The novelty of the train might somehow wear off for some (most likely those who don't appreciate the spectacle that is a SP4449 GS-4 northern class steam locomotive), but the food is just as delicious. Featuring eleven different burgers, handmade milkshakes and other classic drive-in fair, you’ll surely choo choo choo-se to… okay, that’s enough.