I have chocolate under my fingernails -- A report on O Noir
My husband, best friend and I went to O.Noir last night, and for the most part, I'd have to agree with Jacquilynne's description of the restaurant - great idea, poor execution.
We made reservations for 6:00pm, and having been told to arrive a half hour early and really wanting to savour the whole experience, we were there right at 5:30. Too bad the doors were locked and we had to go up to the hotel front desk to make sure we were going in the right door. Finally we knocked on the door and were greeted by someone informing us they didn't open until 5:30 and to come on in.
We came into the lounge, which is a strange mix of movie posters that deal with issues of blindness, a sketchy old hotel bar, an "old boys club" lounge, and a strange banquet hall we had my grade 12 semi-formal in. A waitress offered us menus and encouraged us to take a seat and look them over. My friend ordered a dirty martini, and I a rye and ginger only to find out they don't carry ginger ale - bah! So my second choice pop came, but unfortunately, the gas canister had gone out in their pop machine so it was totally flat and I had to send it back. Not a good start.
After placing our orders, we were led into the dining room by Steve, our waiter. He explained a little bit to us about how the dining experience was going to work, and led us to our table.
Steve did a great job of bringing us our food, touching a shoulder to tell you he was there, and explaining that he was placing your plate down on your right, placing your tea in front of you, etc. He also checked on us a few times to ensure we were okay and didn't need anything.
My real complaint about O.Noir is the food. Having read some of these previous posts, I knew not to expect the world, but I was still disappointed. The 'surprise' starter was ravioli in plain tomato sauce - frozen ravioli I'm sure, and sauce from a jar. So it didn't take much to figure out what that was.
I ordered the filet mignon - it came with slices of potatoes and some grilled veg, all covered in some kind of jus or gravy. It was cooked medium-rare as I ordered, but overall, tasted like a roast beef dinner you'd get in a cafeteria.
For dessert, I got the chocoate mousse, which I'm sure was the kind that you pre-order from Sysco food services. Again, a cafeteria-like experience. I also had a cup of tea in a mug - more of the same experience.
I felt around the table, and the dishes and cutlery were also cafeteria fare, basic tablecloth, and a skid-proof placemat - this would have been a great opportunity to experiement with different textures, but alas, they seem to have gone the cheap route.
I was really hoping for a multi-layered experience...tasting and trying to determine the flavours, experiencing new combinations I maybe wouldn't try if I could see them, but unfortunately, this was not the case.
On another level, my friend spilled her martini and a glass of water across the table, and I ended up with a LOT of liquid in my lap. Steve grabbed us some more napkins, and another staff person came over to ask if we needed more napkins, but they didn't do much to help me out. I would have appreciated some more help - spending the rest of my meal with a wet napkin and a soaking wet tablecloth didn't really add to the experience.
Overall, a unique experience to see what a meal for the blind is like, however the food and service left much to be desired. I'm really sorry to see they missed a great opportunity in bringing this restaurant to Toronto.