For all the linguists out there you will notice this idea is of the french variety which means ‘In the dark’. I surprised TIG’s boyfriend with this unique restaurant in London – dining in total darkness, while being guided and served by blind people. This was such an enlightening experience; a sensory journey making us re-evaluate our perception of taste and smell and one where the darkness dispels all shyness and brings an open-minded atmosphere. This is by far the strangest dining experience we have ever had but it has to be the most eye-opening, intriguing and certainly one that I will never ever forget.
What’s the idea: A dining experience like no other at Dans Le Noir in London
Who for: Great for couples, friends, families and corporate team building
Cost: From £44 for 2 courses from a surprise menu!
Where is it: 30-31, Clerkenwell Green, near the new Farringdon station in London. They also have other restaurants in Paris, Barcelona and St Petersburg
After seeing Dans Le Noir advertised I had to go and see what the hype was all about. I wanted to surprise TIG’s boyfriend with my restaurant of choice so I didn’t tell him where we were going or the cuisine we would be eating. However, a couple of days before, unbeknown to me TIG’s boyfriend called TIG’s mum to get the name and address of the restaurant so he could order flowers to be put on our table. TIG’s mum knew where we were going and just had to say it probably wasn’t a good idea…(As we would be dining in complete darkness!!!) Any other restaurant and this would have been the most perfect gesture!!
We arrived outside the restaurant and it looked quite typical and well lit from the outside. We went up stairs to a lit seating area where we were given a lovely warm welcome and a full explanation of the concept, what will happen and the ordering process. We were able to choose from four different menu types. The idea is that you won’t know exactly what you’ll be eating, just the general category.
White menu = Chef’s surprise (for the daring!)
Blue menu = For fish and seafood lovers
Green menu = For vegetarians
Red menu = For meat eaters
We both opted for the 3 course red menu. They also take into account all the dietary requirements which is a must when you can’t see what you’re eating! Dans Le Noir have definitely thought of everything; as you don’t know what you will eat, the waiter will provide a surprise wine adapted to your meal, to drink by the glass or the bottle, within the budget you indicate to them.
In advance of going into the restaurant we had to put all of our belongings including mobile phones, and anything that produces light such as digital watches in to the lockers. When we were ready to enter the dark room we were introduced to our ever so lovely blind waiter who took care of us for the entire length of our dinner. We then formed a line and put our right hand on the right shoulder of the person in front and we were led to the table.
I don’t know why but I really didn’t think it would be that dark! But, it was pitch black, not a glimmer of light anywhere. We took our seats, which was a bench with other diners along each side. We started feeling for our drinks and cutlery, we then discovered there was bread on the table…eventually we found the butter! We also had a jug of water on the table which I proceeded to pour in what I hoped was my glass! (A top tip to stop it overflowing, just put your finger in the water while you pour!)
Before the food arrived we found ourselves talking to the people next to us. This would never happen in a typical restaurant, but in this very surreal situation the shy inhibitions were left at the door and we happily chatted throughout the night about our experiences.
The food was absolutely incredible, really fresh, seasonal produce…not that we had a clue what we were eating. This experience is all about the taste, smell and texture of the food, however, it was such a strange feeling as both myself and TIG’s boyfriend guessed we were eating totally different things! We couldn’t even decide on the meat that we were eating – was it lamb? pork? maybe chicken! This was ridiculous…of course we knew the difference between meats…didn’t we? I think the only part of the dish I did recognise was the peas as these continually fell off my fork! I did have to apologise to the people next to us just in case they had a lap full of my peas!
At the end of the dinner we were taken out by our guide and opened our eyes slowly for them to adjust. We were then asked what we thought we had just eaten. This was actually really difficult and we guessed completely wrong. Apart from the obvious peas, the only part I was confident about was that there was chocolate in the dessert. We got the starter wrong, we got the meat wrong – it was actually steak, and I could tell chocolate was in the dessert but had no idea what it was served with. This was absolutely crazy and really blew our minds – we couldn’t identify these foods by taste that we eat on a weekly basis, just because we were in the dark.
This was a totally unique journey, suppressing the dominant sense of sight and entering a whole new world of uncertainty. For once it didn’t matter what you looked like, or who you were sat next to. This is an unbelievable social experiment where we struck up conversation with total strangers, which would never happen in a well lit restaurant – us Brits like to keep ourselves to ourselves! However, it makes for the perfect ice breaker when you have just had a sip of wine from your neighbours’ glass…oops!
This idea is one to raise awareness about blindness and turn the tables on society’s attitudes to disability. We put all our faith in the staff, who are seen as disadvantaged in the outside world, but have the upper hand here by knowing their way around every inch of the restaurant. This was a totally unique dining experience and one that will never be forgotten.
Would I go again?
100% yes! This is one experience that I would love to do again and take all my family and friends to. Absolutely loved it – incredible food too.
Have you been to Dans Le Noir?
Did you guess what you were eating correctly?
Video/images taken from Dans Le Noir