Do you remember how you always had to be quiet at the dinner table when you were young but never understood why? Now that you’re all grown up, with children of your own, you probably wish you could have just one more of those quiet dinners. If quiet is what you seek, you’re in luck, as now you can enjoy a four-course meal in complete silence at the Eat restaurant in Greenpoint, Brooklyn where you have to be quiet and enjoy the food, whether you like it or not.
Nicholas Nauman, head chef and curator of the silent-dinner experience, got the idea for the event during a trip to India where he admired the Buddhist monks having their breakfast every morning without uttering a word. In a competing market where restaurant owners are coming up with the most unusual concepts to attract customers – such as dining in pitch-dark, the 28-year-old thought this idea would gain popularity. “It’s just an opportunity to enjoy food in a way you might not have otherwise,” he says. This way, he hopes to “reconfigure the relationship between a space and food” by forcing customers to focus on their plates rather than on the countless distractions that occur while sitting at the dinner table.
The restaurant has already held two such monthly events which were fairly successful. When talking about the first experience, Nauman says “The energy of the presence of the people involved was really palpable and motivating to make the food really good. I didn’t know if afterwards people would say ‘Woah, dude – that was weird’ or be displeased and not want to pay.” Nobody really knew what to expect from this test run but Nauman was somehow positive everything would go well. The customers didn’t break the silence; one man even left the room when he felt like sneezing which is understandable since they were told they had to finish their meals on a bench outside if they didn’t respect the strict no talking rule/if they made so much as a noise. Furthermore, some customers found creative ways of communicating such as using facial expressions. “It’s kind of like a meditation,” Jordon Colon, the owner of Eat, says. “The silence speaks for itself.”
The editor-in-chief of Epicurious.com, who had a taste of this silence experience, says “As a mother of two 15-year-old boys it is kind of a fantasy to go do that.” But as someone who pays money to go out, I would feel like I’m in some kind of silent film; it would be incredibly difficult,”. Nonetheless, other people truly enjoyed the experience and the Eat staff are planning on hosting more such events.