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Camaje restaurant's "Dinners in the Dark"
Camaje restaurant in New York City hosts a "Dinners in the Dark" event, for which guests are blindfolded, on Sept. 22, 2016. (Photo credit: Circa.)

This restaurant blindfolds its guests for the whole meal (and they love it)


This restaurant blindfolds its guests for the whole meal (and they love it)

WATCH: During special events at Camaje restaurant in New York City, bistro guests can revel in a feast for the senses... except sight.

Blindfolded diners have reveled in Camaje's "Dinners in the Dark" for the past 12 years.

Camaje chef-owner Abigail Hitchcock told Circa she helped launch the event with a friend.

"I was approached by a friend of mine who was a choreographer and a performance artist," Hitchcock said. "[She] had this funny experience of being in Europe, having an orange at a picnic. And she randomly closed her eyes and peeled the orange and found that even though she hadn't closed her eyes for very long, the experience was much more intense having her eyes closed.."

Heightening the experience beyond dimly lit restaurants, they broke out the blindfolds at Camaje, which serves French-American and seasonal fare in Greenwich Village.

Blindfolded outside, guests are escorted, conga-line style, into the restaurant.

After nervous laughter subsides, most of them relax to experience a three-course meal.

Zuni Dawn - Robert Tree Cody

Throughout the two-hour dinner, sounds abound. Champagne cork pops and the simultaneous crunch of extra-toasty bread complement the soundtrack. Sometimes guest artists perform music live, but when Circa was there, recorded tracks included chirping birds, Bob Marley's "One Love," and Robert Tree Cody's "Zuni Dawn."

It takes time to acclimate to unusual settings. Forks frequently grab nothing on the plate, and even when they do, contents often plummet to the dish before they make it to a mouth. Hand-raising helps diners ask staffers to do everything from refill a wine glass to escort them to a bathroom.

Between courses, staffers tease guests with feather boas, fanned air and other sensations.

Hitchcock also thinks ahead of time: Since reservations are made in advance, she accounts for dietary restrictions long before the stove heats up.

You never know exactly how people are going to react. But, at the end of the day, they're surprised at how much they like it.
Abigail Hitchcock, chef-owner of Camaje restaurant

When prompted at the end of the meal, diners remove their blindfolds and are eased back into the world of sight as a staff member gradually brightens the room. Guest reactions range from laughter to disbelief, with some expressing shock at the cozy size of the venue and where the kitchen is situated.

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