Patrons to be blindfolded to heighten their sense of taste

Consuming a meal often can be a sensory experience. Take away one’s ability to see his food, however, and senses may intensify.

That’s the idea behind the Eclipse Dark Dining Experience, set for Thursday at the Mood Restaurant inside the Artisan Hotel Boutique, 1501 W. Sahara Ave. The event is set to feature a three-course meal to be devoured by attendees who are blindfolded for the evening.

Darnell Lester, partner with Vegas Squared Media Group and event creator, said eating dinner without one’s sight is a unique experience.

“It’s a different concept when you’re not able to see what you’re eating,” said Lester, who based Las Vegas’ dark dining event off a similar one in Los Angeles . “When you see the food, you have pre-conceived notions about how it tastes. At the end (of the meal), hearing people describe what they thought they tasted is not what you’d expect.”

Mood Restaurant plans to offer choices of meat-centric, seafood-centric, vegetable-centric and chef’s mix plates. Lester said participants are incorrect in guessing the types of spices and seasonings in the dishes about 60 percent of the time. He said people are surprised to hear what they’ve eaten once the meal is finished.

“It’s funny how flavor profiles you think you know end up being completely different,” Lester said. “At the end, the chef comes out with small samples of each dish. One time, a man thought a bleu cheese mousse had a raspberry taste. It’s interesting to see what people think they’re eating during the meal, and then they see how different (the food) is.”

Amberly Hagen, Artisan Hotel Boutique events director, participated in a dark dining test run at the restaurant. She described the experience as intense and unpredictable.

“The flavor profiles were so much more intensified,” Hagen said. “In the beginning, you don’t know where anything is, and you’re afraid to knock over your glass. As the night progresses, you get more and more relaxed, and since you can’t see what you’re eating, you don’t know when you’re finished (with the meal).”

Lester said the meal lasts one to two hours. Guests mingle with one another before the meal begins and are escorted to a dimly lit room before being blindfolded. He said guests become more comfortable with themselves and others as the meal progresses and begin to use their hands instead of silverware to consume the food.

Lester said that in addition to providing a unique eating event, he envisions the Eclipse Dark Dining Experience as something ideal for locals and tourists .

“It’s great for hotel guests and the community because it’s something you can’t get almost anywhere else,” Lester said. “The Artisan provides a nice, intimate setting, and I think it offers something different from what you might see on the Strip.”

Hagen and Lester plan to host dark dining events weekly or bi weekly, depending on the success of the Thursday dinner. The cost is $80 per person, which includes the three-course meal, two glasses of wine or the choice of coffee, tea and soft drinks. Mood Restaurant is slated to accommodate up to 60 people for the event.

“No one has done this event in Vegas before, so it’s a new experience for everyone,” Lester said. “I think locals especially want to see something different, and I think we can bring that here.”

For more information on the Eclipse Dark Dining Experience, call 214-4000 or visit tasteinthedark.com.

Contact Paradise/Downtown View reporter Lisa Carter at lcarter@viewnews.com or 383-4686.

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