Eat, a restaurant in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, served a group of 17 people a $40, four-course dinner in 90 minutes of complete and total silence on Sunday night. According to the Wall Street Journal, Eat’s managing chef and events planner, Nicholas Nauman, was inspired to host the meals after he enjoyed silent breakfasts at a monastery in the Indian Buddhist city of Bodh Gaya. “We wanted to bring attention to the physical and visceral properties of eating, and less of the distractions you see so much these days,” said Mr. Nauman.
Several patrons attended the dinner hoping to recreate the peaceful energy that they experienced at meditative retreats. Others were just trying to have a relaxing dinner, without the normal loud music, high pitched chatter, and picture snapping that you find in most NYC restaurants. It seems the diners found what they were looking for, given that no noise at all was allowed—not even a sneeze or a slurp. The punishment for making noise was being exiled to a bench outside the restaurant for the rest of the meal.
Diners dealt with the silence by developing elaborate pantomimes and taking bathroom breaks to mentally get themselves back in the silent zone. “At first it felt like being 50 and married,” said Williamsburg creative director Bianca Alvarez. “But then it became good, the good kind of quiet.” One patron, who admitted to having an anxious disposition, said he started focusing on details of the room and of the food. Given that studies have found that there is a direct relationship between sound and taste, maybe we should start thinking more about optimizing our auditory environments while dining.