This past Sunday Mrs. T and I went to a Vancouver restaurant called Dark Table using a Groupon deal. Mrs. T had previously purchased the deal and gave it to me as Christmas gift. Yes it has taken me almost 2 months to claim my Christmas gift...
Before going to the restaurant we didn't know what to expect, all we knew is that it will be dark inside and our waiter will be a blind or visually impaired person. Some friends of ours had been to the restaurant before and all had raving reviews. Needless to say, we were quite excited yet somewhat nervous at the same time.
Upon arrival in the lighted lounge we took our time and choose from the menu. To make the eating experience more interesting, the restaurant didn't offer any choice for appetizer and dessert. We were told that we'd get a surprise for both courses. Luckily there were some choices for the main course. After some consideration I decided to go with the beef tenderloin with peppercorn sauce, potatoes, and vegetables. Mrs. T was feeling adventurous so she decided to go with the surprise dish for main as well.
We sat in the lighted area for a few minutes before we were guided into the restaurant by our waiter, Dustin. As we entered the restaurant and walked past the double black door entrance I saw another set of dark doors and all the walls were black. As the doors slowly closed behind us, it went from dimly lit to complete darkness. We were stepping into complete darkness...
It was pitch dark inside and I was about to freak out!
It was comforting that Dustin right away gave us a quick introduction, asked us to go in single file and hold onto the shoulder of the person in front as we walked deeper into the restaurant. We wanted to go to the bathroom first before getting seated so Dustin guided us to the bathroom.
The walk to the bathroom seemed to have taken forever. We zigzagged across the restaurant and past a few other people. There were a lot of noise inside and I could hear the waiters saying "careful, careful, on your right, on your left, etc" as they navigated through the restaurant. When we finally arrived at the bathroom, I was thankful that it was dimly lit so I could see for a brief moment (wouldn't want to pee on the floor or myself, right?).
When we were done, we waited behind a dark curtain for Dustin to guide us to the table.
Dustin soon appeared and guided us through the restaurant to our table. I was completely disoriented as we walked across the restaurant. It was pitch dark and I couldn't even see my own hands. Luckily Dustin provided excellent instructions and I felt at ease hearing him providing instructions and told us where our chairs were so we could both sit down.
There was no light inside as no light producing technologies were allowed in the dining room, including flashlights, cellphones, or luminous watches. It was completely dark, I might as well close my eyes and I wouldn't even know the difference.
After a brief moment in the complete darkness, I was amazed how quickly my hearing adjusted. I was hearing so much better than usual. Soon I found myself trying to orient myself in the complete darkness but couldn't make much sense out of that.
We sat at our table without knowing how big the restaurant was or many people were inside. We could hear a lot of people talking around us but couldn't really make out their conversations. I touched on the table and found my fork, knife, water glass, and a round plate. Touching around I noticed that the table was round, probably so people wouldn't walk into a sharp corner.
Mrs. T and I were excited and nervous at the same time. Pretty quickly our waiter brought us a basket of bread. We moved our hands around to feel the bread and each grabbed one. It sure was interesting trying to open the butter package and spread butter on top of the bread in complete darkness. I had to use my hands to feel a few times to make sure I actually had butter on the knife.
A little while later Dustin came back and brought us the appetizer which looked like this.
Awesome, I have no idea what the surprise appetizer is. So I took the fork and started poking around on the plate and tried to get some food in my mouth. My first few attempts were quite pathetic but eventually I developed a strategy and began to proudly feed myself. The appetizer was a salad dish, which consisted of beet, some sort of nuts (pine nuts?) apple, mushroom, and some sort of spicy dressing.
Mrs. T and I sat in the dark and had great conversations. There are no distractions around us. We ignored all the noises, talked to each other, and could be completely present. (not having the option of pulling out the phone 🙂 ).
Dustin came back a bit later with the main courses which looked like this: (Delicious, right?).
I was delighted to hear that my beef was pre-cut already, making it easier to eat. I first used my right hand to feel around the plate before poking around with my fork. Just like the appetizer it took a few tries before I managed to get something in my mouth. Sometimes I was expecting beef in my mouth but I got potato or vegetables instead. Meanwhile, Mrs. T had no idea what was on her dish so she took a few bites. At first she thought it was lamb but after a few more bites she determined it was some sort of white fish on top of herb and lemon risotto with beans, carrots and beets.
We began to feel quite comfortable eating in complete darkness. We even felt a little adventurous by sharing our food with each other, and cheered with our glasses several times, just because we could.
Eventually Dustin came back to our table with the dessert which looked just like the previous dishes. Amazing!
I quickly felt the dessert and determined it was some sort of rectangular soft cake. I then took a quick bite (as quick as you can in the dark) and immediately realized it was a chocolate cake. Delicious!
The whole dining experience was very interesting. I've never dined in complete darkness before. It was interesting eating in a complete pitch dark environment and not being able to see anything at all. We had to feel our food throughout the evening. It was almost impossible to have a perspective of how big of a portion the different dishes were. It was also hard to take the food off the plate with the fork and knife and put it in my mouth. It was also quite interesting that my hearing was heightened. I was able to hear Mrs. T very well even though there were tons of noise around.
The entire evening Mrs. T and I had some wonderful conversations. We enjoyed each other's company and really enjoyed the dining in the dark experience.
At end of the night when we paid at the cashier we found out the surprise appetizer was a salad consisted of beet, apple, mushroom, sunflower seeds and arugula dressing. For Mrs. T's main dish it was indeed a fish risotto with vegetables (I forgot the fish name). For the surprise dessert it was a red velvet cake (it could have been blue and we wouldn't known it!).
During the night I was also asking to myself... how does this experience relate to the world of investing? Can I take anything away from this experiencing?
In many ways I think eating in the dark shares many similarities to investing in the stock markets. Here are some golden nuggets that I came up with in my crazy mind while eating in complete darkness, scheming some sort of wicked plans...
1. There is always going to be noise around you. Whether to listen to the noises or not, is your personal decision.
When we invest in any stocks, we hear news about the stocks all the time. This company is cutting jobs, oil price is tanking, job report is terrible, employment rate increases, consumer debt went up, etc, etc. We need to learn to ignore the noise and not allow the noise to influence how to invest. Your investment decision is totally up to you. Ignore the noises, focus what you have in hand.
2. Develop your own investment strategy and stick with it.
When I was eating food on my plate, I was initially struggling with putting food in my mouth as I kept dropping it while moving it from the plate to my mouth. I eventually developed a strategy where I would scoop something with the fork, making sure the food was properly on the fork with my index finger, and then bring the food to my mouth. This improved the food to mouth success rate tremendously. I also developed a strategy to eat from the furthest section of the plate first then slowly work my way toward the section closest to me. When I thought I was done, I would poke around the fork in a pattern to make sure no food was left.
When we invest in the stock markets, we need to develop our own investment strategy, whether it's growth investing, index investing, dividend investing, or some sort of hybrid investing. Once we develop our investment strategy it is important to stick with the strategy and not jumping back and forth between the different investment strategies. If you switch back and forth, your investment may not grow at all. This is like changing my overall eating strategy every minute and not getting any food in my mouth.
3. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. Learn from your mistakes.
Both Mrs. T and I dropped food pieces a few times and laughed at it. I quickly learned what I did wrong and learned from my mistakes so I could continue bringing food to my mouth in complete darkness. The same concept applies to investment. It's sucks to make mistakes but it's OK to make them. The most important thing is to learn from these mistakes. I'm sure the legendary investor Warren Buffet has made his share of investment mistakes too. But I believe what makes him different than your average investors is that Buffet learns from his mistakes so he doesn't make the same mistake twice.
4. Always focus on the end goal.
The end of goal of Dark Table experience was to have a nice meal and enjoy the experience. With the end goal in mind we made sure that we enjoyed ourselves and were being present with each other. When it comes to investing, we need to have an end goal. Is the end goal to have a certain amount in your portfolio? Is it the end goal to have a certain amount of dividend income? Is it the end goal to have sufficient amount to meet your retirement needs? These end goals will be different per individual. What is your end goal?
5. Have fun
Have fun while you are at it. When you're investing don't think about money and how your portfolio is doing all the time. You need to have fun and enjoy life too. If you don't, you will end up not liking what you do.
What do you think about this eating in the dark experience? Would you dare to do it?