In retrospect, it’s fair to say that someone so accident-prone should have never been allowed to dine in the dark. Quite frankly, considering I tend to spill vino on myself and fellow diners when I am allowed to keep all my senses working...what did I think would happen when I dined with my eyes wide shut? Ooohh!! And add an irrational fear of the dark to the equation and you can just imagine the kind of delightful dining experience I had at Dans Le Noir.
What I LOVE, however, is anything remotely experimental, weird and incredibly nonsensical; which is how some people have described this dining experience. Once I read those reviews I just knew I had to try it. My adventurous spirit will override all other senses each and every time!
Dans Le Noir? is a chain of concept restaurants which have been around a few years. Never heard of it? Well, the basic idea is that you dine...well...in pitch black darkness. The suppression of eyesight is supposed to heighten all your other senses, making an experience here well above your average ‘dinner night out’. The restaurants continue on their theme by hiring staff members who are visually impaired. Yes, to even out the stakes, your waiter or waitress will be either partially or completely blind. (Just before going I did double check that the chef was not visually impaired and no, you can rest easy, at least he could see what he was cooking! Phew!)
Once you get to the restaurant you will have the chance to enjoy a delicious cocktail and choose your ‘surprise’ set dinner menu. Options include meat, fish and vegetarian. Before dining, you will also be kindly requested to leave your belongings in a locker. I did very much appreciate the fact that mobile phones are not allowed in the dining room. Perhaps they fear someone may cheat half way through the meal and ‘light the way’? Who would ever think of that???? Bugger, there goes plan B.
From the moment you leave the gorgeous (and well lit) lounge area, and enter the ‘dark room’, you will be at the mercy of your waiter. He or she will guide you to your table by creating a congo line with fellow diners.
(Insider’s tip: it’s vitally important that when your waiter or waitress first introduces him/herself, you TAKE GOOD NOTE of his/her name. Should you somehow become dislodged from your congo line, protocol states that you just stand there and call the name out. Apparently, whimpering and calling out for mommy is not de rigeur; although it will have the desired effect of cracking up a roomful of people.)
After you’re seated you will, unfortunately, be left to you own devices and no declaration of undying love toward your waiter will entice him to stay and hold your hand. That was a bit embarrassing...but luckily no-one saw me!
What’s totally mind-blowing is the way your senses go into an absolute frenzy the moment you enter the darkened room. Well all except your sight of course! I could literally feel my ears pricking up, much like the way my dog’s do whenever I open a packet of treat 1,000kms away.
The eating itself is an absolute hoot, although I quickly gave up on the whole cutlery thing and feasted the way humans were perhaps always meant to...with my hands. That was incredibly rewarding and I must say I’m not sure if the food was really that good or the experience so mesmerizing that even my taste buds were duped into thinking this was the best meal they’d ever had. Not exactly sure what it was that I ate exactly, an animal of some description I suppose, but whatever it was...it was scrumptious!
My partner and I were in fits of hysterics more than once during the night and by the time we got home and I could finally take a good look at my dress I shuddered at the thought of what I’d done to that poor table. There’s a teeny part of me that hopes that the cleaning personnel at the restaurant is also visually impaired. Hmmm....sorry about that.
If you’re after an ‘out of this world’ dining experience why don’t you also give it a go? Branches have opened up in London, Paris and Barcelona, whilst Amsterdam is home to a spin-off joint called CTaste.