The idea of eating in the dark is exciting to some and strange to others. “Why would you want to eat in the dark not knowing what you’re consuming?” asked a friend when I said I was going to dine at the Dans le Noir? restaurant in London.
The moment my friend and I stepped into the restaurant we were greeted by the friendly staff and the general manager Dominique Raclin who arrived with some welcome cocktails. Dominique has been managing this restaurant chain for the past 10 years. He told us that the question mark at the end of the name of the restaurant implies the questions that arise during your experience: what am I eating? who is sitting next to me?
One question that might arise is what’s the point of this restaurant? Dominique believes that it revolves around 3 concepts: the social, the personal and the reversal. The social aspect implies that everyone is the same in the dark. You don’t know if you’re sitting next to a person you hate, someone famous, or someone that you probably wouldn’t talk to in a regular setting. You also can’t just sit at dinner staring at your phone as they’re not allowed in the dining space.
The personal aspect is the feeling of eating without using your eyes, giving every person a unique experience. The third and in my opinion most important aspect of this restaurant is the reversal aspect. In day to day life, people without disabilities are those who have to help disabled people.
However, in Dans le Noir? the guests are guided by blind waiters or bartenders as 50% of the staff is blind. We had a chance to talk to our guide during and after the experience and he was an amazing person. I must say that without his help we’d have been lost in the dark.
What about the food and drinks? During the dinner we shared a bottle of wine. We got so far as to say that we drank white wine. I can’t yet reveal what we ate, a the menu is a complete surprise. We were only told at the end of the experience.
There are four choices of menus: Red – meat dishes with no seafood, Blue – for seafood lovers with no meat, Green – for vegetarians, and White – a total surprise.
I obviously went for the White option as I was very eager to try something even more exotic than I had tried before. Again, I can’t tell you what I ate, but if you take a look at the website you can see that the restaurant serves a few exotic dishes such as springbok (my personal favorite meat), shark, crocodile, veal, and much more! Each main course consists of three smaller dishes with different meats, garnishes, and veggies so you get to try quite a lot of things.
My friend and I were convinced that we got different desserts, but in fact we found out we had the same exact dish.It’s funny how everything tastes differently in the dark!
Prices at Dans le Noir? are standard for London: £52 for a 3 course meal and £9 for a cocktail.
I cannot put into words how much I recommend this to anyone and everyone. Beyond the obvious, the concept of eating in the dark has so many great uses. It helps to empathize with the blind, or encourage people to face their fears (darkness or claustrophobia). It can also introduce new product tastings for companies (some leading food and drinks companies do this here regularly), and much more.