Opaque is a unique restaurant located near Civic Center Plaza on Macallister. As you approach the front of the restaurant, the sign declares: “Opaque - dining in the dark.” As its tagline suggests, Opaque provides an unconventional dining experience. The entire dining room in bathed in pitch darkness and diners enjoy their meals by exploring the limits and nuances of their other senses.
Dining at Opaque requires a reservation because the entire dining experience is like a well choreographed dance that allows you to let go of your sense of sight. The experience begins in a dim lounge where the lights are lowered to allow your eyes to adjust to darkness. Bags and electronics are switched off and checked in with the hostess to begin your journey into light deprivation. While you wait to be seated, you can begin to relax with a glass of wine or a cocktail, and make your selection from the prixe fixe menu. Each dinner includes a salad, an entree, and a dessert. Some diners deign to be surprised by the chef’s offerings.
Expert service is provided by a visually impaired waitstaff who deftly navigate the pitch black dining room to seat you at your table and deliver your menu selections. Executive Chef Michael Whang crafts his dishes to layer flavors that will delight and surprise the palate; he also plays with textures. Each dish features textures that play off one another, from a creamy goat cheese to the rough-skinned candied walnut in a salad to the smooth balsamic vinaigrette that ties all of those flavors and textures together. In the darkness, you are aware of sounds, scents, and sensations, from the whisper of the clothes of the waiter brushing past you to the heady, spicy scent rising from the plate in front of you. Dining at Opaque also allows you to enjoy new aspects of your dining companions, such as the signature sounds of their voices and the depths of your conversations.
The lights lift as you leave the dining room and settle your tab in the lounge and pick up your belongings. You leave with a fascination and appreciation of your sense of touch, taste, and sound, and of course, with satisfaction after enjoying a delicious meal. Opaque is open Wednesday through Saturday for dinner service.
Kylie Hicks is a Bay Area native. She enjoys karaoke, trips to wine country, and discovering good eats in the City.