Restaurants with special dining in the dark events are currently popular. In Boston, you can check out Dining in the Dark, where you are blindfolded for dinner, forcing you to rely more heavily on your senses other than sight. These type of restaurants extend back to Germany in 1999, where blind and visually impaired servers were used in pitch dark restaurants. Similar restaurants have sprouted up across the world.
However, I am not ranting about these type of restaurants. Instead, I am talking about restaurants which intentionally keep their lighting far too dim, but not because they are offering a "dining in the dark" experience. In recent weeks, I have dined at two restaurants, The Gallows and Boston Chops, where I had issue with the lighting. I dined there on weekday evenings and still do not understand why they chose to make it so dark.
It was so dim that I could not read the menus without using some form of extra light to illuminate the menu details. Should I really need to use the flashlight app on my iPhone to see a restaurant menu? No, I shouldn't. Not ever. How does a restaurant expect you to make your menu selections if you can't see those choices? Are they trying to hide the prices on their menu?
In addition, the dimness prevents you from adequately viewing the food you order. You won't get a proper view of the presentation, the colors of the food, the visual textures of the dish. All you will see is a mass of shapes and shadows, which can cover many errors. If a mistake is made on your dish, you might not be able to determine it immediately, if at all.
For example, at The Gallows, I ordered one of their special poutines, asking for it without asparagus. When the dish came to my table, there was asparagus in it, though it took some time to discover that as it was too dark for me to easily see it in my dish. I will note that the restaurant very satisfactorily handled the mistake and that is not an issue. I just wish I had the ability to completely see what was on my plate.
Is the darkness a sign of the time of the evening? Does a restaurant think it should be darker the later in the night? At Boston Chops, the lighting started off fine when I arrived around 7pn, but it seemed that by 8pm, the lighting had progressively dimmed until it was impossible to read the menu and difficult to see my food. At the Gallows, I arrived around 7:30-8pm, and it was already too dark to see the menu. Why? Why? Why?
Restaurants, people want to be able to clearly see their menu and food. It might seem cool to make it dimmer at a bar, where people care far less what their drink may look like, but doing so at a restaurant helps no one. Spend a bit more on your electric bill and shine some light in your dining room. You might get more satisfied customers.