#99 Dinner at Dans Le Noir

Forget dinner by candlelight, why don’t we eat in total darkness? Dans Le Noir, which literally means “in the dark,” gives a whole new meaning to eating with your senses.

“Diners at Dans Le Noir have little knowledge of the entrées, appetizers, desert, and wine choice of their meal, which is primarily inspired by French cuisine. Diners are served by either blind or visually impaired wait-staff and a percentage of the profits of the restaurants fund research on visual disabilities.” – Wikipedia

Eating here has been on my list for a while having heard about it whilst working nearby in Farringdon. This summer I finally got round to herding the housemates and by using the excuse of two birthday’s, manage to convince them to join me on an outing at the London branch of this Parisian concept.

On arrival I thought we had come to the wrong place, the entrance and bar area of this Clerkenwell establishment was far from welcoming. I was expecting a warm homely sensation to rush over me on stepping foot through the door, like you do with so many of the areas growingly popular restaurants and pubs, but alas it was like walking into an suburban ice rink with a wall of lockers to put your possession’s and not really knowing where to go or what to do.

Once finally greeted, we were given the option to choose from four menus: Meat, Fish, Vegetarian and the “Surprise”. However, here is the catch, you are not yet told what comes with each menu, that is part of the “experience” – to guess what food you are spilling down your front as you attempt to aim for your mouth.

With the first three being chosen by the group already, I decided, as this was my choice of restaurant, to go with the “surprise”… the waitress grinned like hyena, I pretended not to notice and followed her up the hall way.

After successfully completing the conga through the curtains into complete darkness, our visually impaired waiter, Jack, helped us to our seats and we tried to take in our surroundings. Well, on that note… you simply cant!

Without a drop of light in the whole room, you eyes spend a few minutes searching and trying to adjust without success. You have no clue where you are, what is around you or who is sat where. It wasn’t until James took my hand and placed it on a poor lady’s lap to the left of me, that I realized my group was actually to the right – I had been talking to the wrong table for a good 5 minutes.

First challenge – the wine! I was expecting the waiter to pour it for us, oh no no – where would the fun be in that? I took up the challenge and gingerly set about trying to pour everyone a drink – with my finger at the top of the glass, I slowly poured each glass until I could feel when it was full. Challenge complete, easy! However, James thought it would be a good idea to toast for our birthdays… it all went down hill from there – after re-pouring 2 of the 4 glass, we finally relaxed to soak up the atmosphere and await our entrees.

When eating in total darkness, I was hoping the loss of eyesight would enable me to use other senses and consequently, discover a new way to appreciate tastes and aromas, a new way to enjoy a dinner. That could not be further from the truth. Once the plates had been served, I tried on several occasion with knife and fork in hand to a) try and work out what was on said plate and b) to put some food on said fork. I gave up pretty swiftly, switching to the half cave man method of hand and fork!

I have to admit, I rather enjoyed the food – both my starter and main were a nice balance of tastes and textures, my only complaint however were the portions. Having finished our mains and conversation continuing to circle around the guessing of what we had just eaten, I was still starving!

Once finished, we were carefully escorted back to the main bar, conga style of course, where we can enjoy any left overs found on our shirts, before being handed the menus again to see what we had just consumed.

Here is a photo of mine; having guessed about 20% of it right, I was pleasantly surprised on the exotic collection of meats.

Having read a few reviews, I was a little skeptic of what to expect before coming here. Having spent £60 each on two courses and a bottle of wine I felt rather short changed for what we had eaten – however as an experience it is quite unique. Would I go again? Probably not, ill just cook at home, turn all of the lights off, blindfold everyone and enjoy the same experience at a fraction of the cost but I am glad I went and experienced dinner in the dark – its another tick on the list and produced some good memories with my London friends.


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