A New York City restaurant has the food world talking about its silent dinners.
Eat, located in the trendy Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn, has begun hosting silent dinners, where everyone – from the chefs to the wait staff to the diners – remain absolutely quiet while inside the restaurant’s four walls.
And so far, the recently launched service has been a hit with customers. Diners range from men and women who use the silent time as a kind of meditation, to the curious, to beleaguered New Yorkers looking for a reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple.
“It’s an opportunity to just have a space and a time where people can come and enjoy a meal,” chef Lauren O’Connor told the Times. “It’s about not really needing anything but being there, and being in the space and realizing the uniqueness of the space and the really great elements about the space.”
Um. Sounds a little … West Coast.
“A lot of people [who work here are] from the West Coast,” she said.
Eat, she said, “is a unique place” where the menu changes daily. It’s a farm-to-table restaurant where everything – even the olive oil, vinegar and spices – is locally sourced. “Everyone here is very present … and we are really inspired by each other,” she said, adding that it’s the kind of restaurant where a chef will wash a dish and a dishwasher will make a sauce or menu suggestion.
O’Connor said the logistics for the silent dinners are pretty straightforward.
To date, the dinners have been for an RSVP crowd that knows the drill going in. Meals are a preselected four-course affair. Diners note their order on a card – “S” for seafood or “V” for vegetarian – and the cards are turned over to the kitchen. Everything else is figured out via pantomime.
“You might have someone put their hand up” to signal ‘no’ to dessert, she said.
She added: “I think it appeals to people to experience an ‘intentional focus experience.’ Everyone is together involved in the silence. There are large communal tables. Everyone is actually eating together. You look around, you close your eyes – whatever you choose to do, there’s no right or wrong way to do it.”