Silence is golden. To the patrons of Eat restaurant in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, it's more like $40.
That price tag will buy a four-course dinner served in complete silence. Chef Nicholas Nauman says the concept stems from time he spent in a Buddhist monastery.
He started the silent meals about a month ago with a prix-fixe menu in order to minimize verbal communication; the staff and kitchen also prepare and serve all the fare without speaking. On the logistical front, diners must indicate ahead of time if they will want the vegetarian option.
“We’ve developed good ways to communicate without speaking. We have a small kitchen, we know what we’re doing,” Nauman says.
Nauman hasn’t had to chastise any rule breakers yet, but he assumes anyone who succumbs to chatter would feel “a very palpable negative energy from the rest of the customers.”
The unconventional environment is causing a lot of noise. Nauman says reservations are increasingly difficult to secure.
Frank Lyon, a 31-year-old musician, attended the first silent meal at Eat.
“Language is a medium, and food is also a medium. When you eat and all you do is talk about the food, you forget about the food,” he says. “When you abandon the discussion, you experience the food more.”