Dans Le Noir: What it’s Really Like to Eat in the Dark

Dans Le Noir: What it’s Really Like to Eat in the Dark

 

The concept is intriguing.

Dans Le Noir is a restaurant where you can’t see a thing, neither the people you’re dining with nor the food you’re eating. It’s probably the only restaurant in the world where you’re shown the menu after you finish eating. Choose from 4 surprise menus: meat, fish/seafood, vegetarian or ‘trust the chef’. It’s not cheap either, £54 for 3 courses, £74 includes an alcoholic drink with each meal and £99 for 5 courses with 5 accompanying beverages. We go for the £74 ‘Special Birthday Deal’, and choose the chef’s surprise menu.

Spoiler alert, the chef’s surprise menu is not a mix of the other three, as I wrongly assumed. It’s another category entirely, which should just be called what it is: exotic meats. You could be eating either kangaroo or crocodile, shark, Springbok or reindeer. But you won’t know which until after you’ve finished your meal.

The room is as advertised, pitch black.

No mobile phones, watches or light of any kind are allowed inside. Lockers are provided for storing these away before you’re escorted to your seat in a congo line. The waiters are blind, which makes sense, handing over your cutlery, beverages, and food with ease. In fact, the concept was founded in order to raise awareness about disability.

Somehow I hadn’t expected to eat with cutlery, especially when confronted with the challenge. If, after numerous attempts at stabbing the plate your fork still comes up empty, you might be tempted to eat with your hands. But this is no finger food. Wilted samphire, smoked purée, mash and poached halibut fillet really do require knife and fork. I was able to stab my scallop starter and nibble around it until it was the right size to pop into my mouth.

The main comes in three sections.

Like three conjoined bowls, which is supposed to help you navigate between the different foods. On my plate, I had smoked reindeer, crocodile pie, and halibut. Refusing to eat with my hands, I was left with just two of my senses, smell and taste. But the smell of this bizarre food combination was not at all inspiring, and really a missed opportunity to piqué the senses.

It’s not that the food was bad, it’s just badly thought out. What would have made the whole thing better would have been bite-sized finger food, no knife and fork, served like tapas. Also, before our starters we were given a basket of sliced white French baguette to pass around. At £74 a head, serving plain bread is sheer laziness. Instead of plain bread, how about cheese-filled dough balls or garlic bread or something else more interesting to smell and taste?

The trio of mains served together also defeats the purpose of trying to smell what you’re eating. Smelling fish while you’re eating steak isn’t the most appetizing. And rather than keep us guessing until the very end, I would have liked to know what each dish was before the next dish is brought out. Apparently, I ate crocodile, but I have no idea what it tasted like because it was all a mystery.

By the end of the meal, we were ready for the experience to be over.

Many diners use the dark as a cover, to put on fake accents or make silly noises and faces. All part of the Dans Le Noir fun. But I couldn’t help but think our jokes were in bad taste if the experience is supposed to give insight into being blind. Eating in the dark was more uncomfortable than I expected, and we all commented on how the alcohol made us dizzy after less than we’re used to. Stepping out into the light was really disorienting, as our eyes adjusted to the light.

While our waiter was fantastic, humorous and helpful, and we laughed all night, the consensus was that we wouldn’t go back. There is nothing attracting diners to return unless you’re taking people for the first time. The food is just not competitive enough for spending £74 in London. After all, it’s a restaurant, not a theatre show.

 

Dans Le Noir: 3-Course Surprise Menu

Dans Le Noir Menu

Would you trust the Chef?

 

10 Comments

  1. 31 January 2018 / 10:07 am

    Sounds intriguing but I don’t think I would pay so much money to eat in the dark. After all, food must be appreciated by all our senses, including eyesight! Loved your reading Lara!

    • 31 January 2018 / 2:53 pm

      Indeed, I also found it really expensive for what it is. Sight and presentation play a big role in the appreciation of food. So if you’re going to remove that one sense, you should focus on emphasizing the other senses, which I felt they didn’t really do. Interesting concept but needs updating. The restaurant opened 12 years ago already and I doubt much, if anything, has changed since then. xx

  2. 31 January 2018 / 3:11 am

    Experiences like this are so interesting. They have an experience like this in Atlanta but it is more like navigating thru a day as a non-sighted person. I never realized how many challenges others are going thru on a daily basis. I am glad you learned so much. Even if it was to know you are glad to not have to experience that on a daily basis.

    Danie
    http://www.thiscurvylife.com

  3. Jasmin
    30 January 2018 / 10:26 pm

    This sounds super interesting! Definitely an experience worth to try out!

  4. 30 January 2018 / 8:03 pm

    Oh wow! I have heard so much about this but had always been too scared to try (I am so useless in the dark). But I am very tempted now!!

    http://www.chausadventure.com

  5. 30 January 2018 / 7:32 pm

    This is a really fascinating way to raise awareness about disability. On the one hand, you’re allowed to “walk a mile in the shoes” of someone who is without sight. On the other, it’s almost as if the experience is played up as a farce. I agree it may have missed the mark. A meal that really excites the sense of taste, as opposed to trying to depict blindness, sounds like a better experience overall. Super interesting though!

    • 30 January 2018 / 8:18 pm

      Thanks for your comment Beth, that’s exactly what I was getting at! It’s definitely an interesting experience, which I’m glad I did even if I’ll probably not go again.

  6. 30 January 2018 / 7:28 pm

    I have seen this was on TV. I’m not sure if was this restaurant, but it has looked so challenging and not knowing what you are going to eat. I’d love to experience it some day.

  7. 30 January 2018 / 5:29 pm

    Oh what a nice concept, would love to try this one day.

  8. 30 January 2018 / 5:03 pm

    Wow, first of all: cool review! I was already wondering how it is to dine in the dark. And second I didn’t know it started with the concept of raising awareness for blind people. Beautiful concept!

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