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Fill Your Senses At The BlackOut Restaurant, Tel Aviv
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Fill Your Senses At The BlackOut Restaurant, Tel Aviv

Picture of Kyla Blumenfeld
Updated: 9 February 2017
The Nalagaat Center is a hub of deaf and blind culture in Jaffa Port, Tel Aviv. It hosts a theater with a blind-deaf cast, a coffee shop that teaches you to order a coffee in sign language, and the BlackOut, a restaurant in the dark, served by a team of blind waiters. We look at this remarkable business.

Dining in the dark

Dining in the dark goes far beyond the conventional dining experience. It combines the sounds and sensations that are the side dishes to your meal. Echoes of knives and forks, the sounds of buzzing conversation and pouring water are all infused with your meal. The customers are guided into the restaurant in a human chain, with the waiter at the head of the queue as each diner holds onto the shoulder of the person in front of them, until everyone is seated. The waiter first explains where all the key items on the table are, for clear in-door navigation. You’ll even hear a joke or two about the magnificent view. Feeling the silverware, the glass and the carafe gives first time diners a good foothold. It can be extremely satisfying to poke your fork around the plate when suddenly the soft thud of a ravioli lets you know that you the have found your target.

What good food sounds like

Orders are taken outside, where the menus are visible. Keys and light producing cell phones are placed in a locker to avoid any kind of distraction from the great food to be served. The menu has been designed to surprise .“The idea is to have as many different flavors as possible in one dish, so that you can taste a bit of everything in one bite,” explains sous-chef Fernando Zales. “Entrees include kabab, caprese salad and malfatti, a delicious gouda and spinach Italian-style dumpling.” The main dishes are composed of a variety of fish, vegan and vegetarian food. You won’t have to worry about looking for bones, as the fish are fresh fillets from the port, served on a on creamy layered gratin. Their most popular dish is the potato gnocchi in a creamy sweet chestnut sauce. After delving into a milky malabi pudding, customers can purchase a package to see the Not By Bread Alone show, where eleven blind and deaf actors bake bread for the audience.

Brilliant blind staff

The staff of blind waiters serve over 40 customers twice a night, and Nalagaat has thought of every little detail to make sure the restaurant is fully functional for both waiters and customers. “Our goal is to make you feel as comfortable as possible, and to make you understand our world,” explains Eliran Golan, BlackOut’s shift manager. People often think of the blind world as a sad and lonely place, but the charisma of the staff only makes the dark livelier. “We want to show you that we are not poor, miserable people.We live freely and we manage our lives just like seeing people,” he continues. The steel markers on the restaurant floor guide the waiters between tables and the plates themselves even come in various sizes and textures, creating a easy distinction between the dishes.

Dining at the BlackOut is not only about a culinary experience, but the feeling that comes along with it. It is a portal into a rich, sense-loaded world that breaks boundaries and that makes the impossible seem like an easy task…and it comes with a passionfruit cocktail.

68031 Jaffa-Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv, Israel +972 3-633-0808