As one diner joked ““At first it felt like being 50 and married:”
As a pilot run for what it hopes to make a monthly event, Eat, a restaurant in the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn, served a capacity crowd of 17 people a $40, four-course dinner (plus palette cleansers) of organic locavore fare in 90 minutes of total silence on Sunday night. Nicholas Nauman, Eat’s 28-year-old managing chef and events planner, said he was inspired to hosts the meals by silent breakfasts he enjoyed at a monastery in the Indian Buddhist pilgrimage 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. At 8:04 Sunday night, after imploring patrons to “speak now or forever hold your peace” about nut allergies, the silence set in. Punishment for talking was having one’s plate–filled with handmade whole wheat pasta or scallops and calamari, among other dishes–removed and placed on a bench outside, where loudmouths could finish their meals.
There was no slurping of the summer squash chili basil soup. Or of the various chilled teas. At 8:12, the first muffled sneeze. At 8:20, the first throat cleared.
Maria Usbeck, a 28-year-old freelance art director from Williamsburg, tried to make her companion laugh by turning her napkin into a paper airplane and sailing it from one knee to the other.
Three women celebrating a 30th birthday developed such elaborate pantomimes that they were able to have a fully silent conversation in which they decided to have a round of shots afterwards at Nights & Weekends, a nearby bar.
Some patrons (who ordered ahead of time) closed their eyes in acts that proved later to be both meditation and napping. One patron texted up a storm on her iPhone, as her friends wondered whether or not she would be showing up to their “Breaking Bad” viewing party.
More information about Eat here.