Experiential dining is the latest trend in NYC’s food scene, and Millennial and Gen Z diners cannot seem to get enough. From sensory-focused multi-course meals to themed menus to unexpected spaces, Tik Tok and Instagram are featuring content from all sorts of unique experiential dining experiences in New York City. People are craving originality and innovation when it comes to dining out these days. Because of the pandemic shutdowns of restaurants and the unprecedented variety of food delivery options, leaving the house to enjoy a meal that doesn’t have the same allure as it did before. As a result, diners want memorable experiences that go beyond the food itself, and that’s where experiential dining comes in.
But before we go any further, what exactly is ‘experiential dining’? Experiential dining is when a restaurant transcends the traditional style of dining to give its customers a unique dining experience like no other. Forget about the typical order of events you already know when eating out… Experiential dining goes beyond sitting down, sipping on drinks, enjoying your meal, and paying the bill. Whether it is the environment or the dishes themselves, experiential dining experiences invite diners to indulge fully and engage actively with all of their senses during their meal.
It’s a bit hard to explain, but like any good thing, you’ll have to experience it firsthand… So here are the must-try experiential dining experiences for bold diners in NYC right now:
- Abigail’s Kitchen: Dinners in the Dark
This one is for the adventure-seekers and daredevils… Get ready to have your senses heightened at Abigail’s Kitchen with their twice-weekly “Dinners in the Dark”. At this Greenwich Village spot, Chef Abigail Hitchcock is offering diners the exclusive opportunity to enjoy a full-course meal, all while being blindfolded.
You’re meant to engage your senses from the very beginning of their “in-the-dark culinary adventure”. Be prepared to walk in, and instantly put a blindfold on as you’re ushered into a private dining room to enjoy Abigail’s secret tasting menu of the day. She plays with aromatic foods and different consistencies to bring her patrons an interactive experience like no other. Hitchcock is inviting people to let their senses take the reigns, and experience all the smells, textures, and even sounds, that come with eating a dish. For $150 a ticket, you can experience what it’s like to eat with a different perspective than what you already know. Do you dare to savor?
- Gradito’s Immersive Michelin Experiences At Home
Now this experiential dining experience is a little different from blindfolds and secret menus… Gradito isn’t quite stepping out of your comfort zone because their luxury private chef experiences are all about enjoying luxury in the comfort of your home. They do, however, encourage you to venture when it comes to trying new cuisines and dishes that will expand your tastebuds’ horizons. Their Michelin-trained personal chefs have traveled the globe in search of the world’s most unparalleled flavors, so they can soon share with you.
Gradito’s private chef app is all about connecting people who are interested in immersing themselves in a top Michelin experience without having to leave their doorstep. Their Michelin-trained private chefs and talented sommeliers are looking to transport your senses to new worlds of flavor in the intimacy of your home. Once you connect with your chosen chef through the Gradito personal chef app, you can choose from their seasonal menus or design a custom menu tailored to your preferences.
After booking your Gradito private chef dinner, you’re all set to enjoy an evening filled with unexpected flavor profiles and a luxurious atmosphere. Your top-ranked private chef and sommelier will be your guides through this culinary journey and will make sure you feel like a million bucks during the entire evening. You will be able to awaken each of your senses through their classic, elevated, and luxury tasting menus, and uncover the culinary secrets that lie in each course. Book a Gradito luxury private chef experience in their personal chef app, and you’ll be in for a sophisticated treat that will refine your understanding of flavor and its minuscule complexities.
- JOURNEY… to the Center of Your Dish
Next on our quest for NYC experiential dining experiences is JOURNEY… Located at 27 West 24th Street, JOURNEY is NYC’s prime destination for theatrical gastronomy and those diners looking for something incredibly original. By blending immersive video installations, fine dining, fashion tech, and theatre, Executive Chef Edward Hong and the creatives at JOURNEY are offering not one, but four of the most exclusive dining experiences in the city: JOURNEY 360, JOURNEY Odyssey, JOURNEY Lounge, and JOURNEY À La Carte.
All of these dining experiences have their own signature twist, and encourage people to immerse themselves fully with an open mind and an appetite for the unknown. If you book JOURNEY 360, you can expect to sit at a communal table with other diners and experience a complete 360 projection mapping from floor to ceiling. Each course of the five-course meal is paired with a distinct setting that is projected on the table and the entire room. You will travel to breathtaking places such as a waterfall in the rainforest and get up close and personal with a volcano and an underwater shipwreck. Here, futuristic innovation meets culinary delight. JOURNEY Odyssey, on the other hand, brings together smaller groups of people to participate in a multisensory culinary journey where performance brings each course to life. During this dining experience, you’ll have the chance to witness top-tier Broadway performers introduce each course through humorous vignettes. At Odyssey, inventive cuisine is mixed with theatricality to immerse guests in an unforgettable comic dining adventure. Then we have JOURNEY Lounge, which is a unique concept featuring a room filled with paintings and objects that come alive before your eyes with 3D animation. With staff wearing intricate FashionTech outfits and the bar having integrated video installations for flights of cocktails, you will be transported to a tapas bar of the future. Lastly, JOURNEY À La Carte is a refined mix of all three other experiences. In this café, bar, and immersive fine dining space you will experience the world that exists in your dish as projections reveal the 3D intricacies of your dish… all with a touch of theatre, of course! JOURNEY is a perfect taste of NYC’s avant-garde scene, and will be sure to transport your senses to new heights never imagined.
Get ready to experience a ‘dinner and a show’ as you’ve never done before with this globally renowned experiential dining experience. Opened exclusively at the New York Mariott Marquis on their revolving rooftop The View, Le Petit Chef is a one-of-a-kind dining expedition. Similarly to JOURNEY, Le Petit Chef uses animation and video installations to bring people’s food to life right before their eyes. However, what sets Le Petit Chef apart is that you’ll experience each course through the eyes of Le Petit Chef, the world’s smallest French Chef. Not only will he host the unique four-course meal, but he will bring the entire table to life with a magical 3D experience with unparalleled flavors.
With the help of world-renowned Skullmapping artists and TableMation Studios, Le Petit Chef can guide its guests through an interactive experience of food and digital entertainment. Just imagine your table turns into an ocean, and Le Petit Chef catches your lobster for dinner right then and there… or maybe he wrestles a bumblebee to help cook a delicious dish. The possibilities are truly endless with the creative spontaneity of this dining experience. But it doesn’t just end here… During this two-hour culinary phenomenon, reality meets this digital realm as The View’s staff choreographs and serves the entire meal to complement the entire culinary journey. Le Petit Chef is the whimsical experience you never knew you needed to taste.
Whether you’re into dining in the dark or a sophisticated Michelin private chef experience at home or a 3D futuristic dining journey, NYC is filled with experiential dining experiences waiting for you to try. So go ahead, get planning, and awaken your senses to foods, flavors, and creative innovations you never thought could exist. Your tastebuds will thank you later.