Signs – An American Sign Language Themed Restaurant

For my birthday ago few years ago, I went to a themed restaurant in Toronto called O. Noir. They say when you have multiple senses running simultaneously, that they’re not as heightened. O. Noir is the type of restaurant where the hired staff are visually impaired (I believe this is the politically correct term now as opposed to blind) and they guide you to your seat in complete darkness. In short, you eat in pitch blackness so that your taste buds are heightened and you are at the mercy of your waiter when you walk around in a congo-like line. It’s an interesting concept and I just so happened to end up at another similarly themed restaurant called Signs. This restaurant uses American sign language to communicate with customers as the staff that are hired are hard of hearing (deaf). It was an interesting experience because I haven’t used sign language in so long, let alone remember any of it but thankfully there were some translators available.

To order your food, you have to use the menu and mini-flip chart they provide you which shows you the symbols for each item. They requested that dining patrons avoid taking pictures of those documents, so I didn’t take any. However, what I did get pictures was of the food we had! It was a three course meal, so for appetizers I got traditionally made escargot that came with a few pieces of garlic bread. The plating reminded me of an angel for some reason. The escargot was a bit bland (I should’ve added some salt), but the garlic bread was definitely packed full of flavour and it was toasted the way I like it: golden-brown.

The main entrée that I ordered (and my friend because it was too hard to say no to this) was the two lobster tails served with gnocchi and baby spinach in a tomato-based sauce. It was a bit salty, but being a salt-fiend I am I loved the dish. The lobster tails were cooked perfectly, the meat was succulent and they technically did all the work for you by pulling it out (nobody wants to fight with their food). The gnocchi had that gummy texture to it being the made of potatoes and flour, but the tomato sauce with spinach was delicious. It was a decent portion, but I wish the plate never ended.

Saving the best for last, dessert! Again, being so tempting my friend and I ordered the same thing – a chocolate avalanche cake. It was very moist because the cake was drenched in a sugary syrup and it was huge! It was sprinkled with powdered sugar with a side of fruit in chocolate syrup. Yum!

I think these restaurants are a bit gimmicky, but if it serves delicious food and helps people with disabilities get a job – I support it. It was a bit fun to use sign language to order our food and communicate with staff. Our waiter was super enthusiastic and happy and it was a great experience. All the menu items at Signs made it difficult to choose, but all the ones I had were very tasty so I would definitely go back. Next time, I’ll have to try their jerk gnocchi, mango sorbet and frog legs!

Update: Signs has officially closed due to lack of funding.

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