During a brief visit to Berlin several months ago, I excitedly accepted a dinner invitation by two friends celebrating their third wedding anniversary at unsicht-bar, where you dine in complete darkness and you’re served by blind waiters. At the entrance, we followed the waiter by holding onto each other’s shoulders towards our table. We opted for the surprise menu, knowing that it would add more fun to our pitch-black evening trying to guess what we were served. The ambience was initially awkward, but jazz and waltz music helped us relax. We didn’t wait long before Angela, our friendly and legally blind waiter brought our meals. In a unique experience, we took turns relying at first on the senses of smell and touch before involving our taste buds in attempts to remove the mystery from our meals. My hands were my utensils tackling my meal, which was a slice of roast beef with pasta and green beans. Even though the food was mediocre, the experience was thought-provoking, at least to me.
Berlin is reputed for its eccentric fine dining; there’s a restaurant where you can pay what you wish (Weinerei), and another that caters for anorexics (Sehnsucht) and employs bulimic waitresses. There’s also a toilet-themed restaurant (Klo, German for toilet), and the more popular, but still unconventional, Hard Rock Café; a casual dining venue built around a theme of rock and roll, from live music to interior décor. Later on, it became apparent to me that these restaurants were not only limited to Berlin. In fact, it has been a growing global phenomenon over the past three decades called “concept restaurants,” sometimes also called “theme restaurants.” I wondered about what underlies that trend and whether there’s a common thread among concept restaurants. Based on a lot of research and travelling, I drew the conclusion that they all reflect a relatively recent worldview prevalent in contemporary culture known as postmodernism.
Image via Romania-Insider.com
From the mid-18th century forward, the Modern era brought along the Enlightenment Age (sometimes labelled “Age of Reason”), introducing ideals that were … Read More