Matt Davis, November 2017
There came a point recently where one too many friends asked “have you eaten at that place that’s pitch black, yet?” and I simply had to try it for myself, if only to appease the relentless questioning! Well, I owe each of them my thanks; what an experience it was.
At first I was sceptical for a number of reasons. Firstly, I don’t like gimmicks and had clumsily shoehorned this into that category. Secondly, just how dark was dining in the dark really going to be. Secondly, restaurants like this have a horrible habit of focusing all their energy on a theme and forget to actually place any emphasis on the quality of food.
Well, I’d be tucking into a large humble pie were I not so full from Dans le Noir’s delicious dining.
I won’t spoil the surprise by telling you what I ate, as the restaurant boasts an array of surprise menus, which include meat, fish and vegetarian options You simply pick one of these categories and the rest is out of your hands (until such time as it comes to eat). You’ll be brought a surprise dish from your chosen menu and, after you’ve finished, will be led back to the light, asked to guess what you ate. Handed the menus and told what you ate.
There is an initial learning curve to adjust to – feeling around for where your plate is can seem a little like an I’m A Celebrity challenge as you unceremoniously plunge your hands into some unidentified textures on the first couple of attempts, but you quickly adapt. The food was exceptional and not being able to see it actually made the taste even more emphatic. I would, however, advise against wearing white – plan for splashes and spillages during the opening minutes of your dining in the dark experience, not that you’ll be able to tell until you’re back in the restaurant lobby!
My favourite aspect of Dans le Noir, however, was it forced you to think and to communicate. You can’t be distracted, because you can’t see anything. You and your friends can’t check their phone because they’re simply not allowed and in the absence of any other stimulus forces you to be entirely present in that moment which, frankly, we could do with a bit more of these days.
It’s entirely unique and, contrary to my initial reservations, is far from gimmicky. It’s time to dine in the dark – book a table now!
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