For my birthday weekend, my chap and I spent the day in London doing what we do best – eating and drinking. We started out at the Southbank food market taking in all the glorious smells and perusing all the options. Having made our choices and inhaled our food, we took to exploring one of my favourite pockets of London, brimming with buzz and overflowing with interesting people.
After filling up on cocktails, James revealed that he was taking me somewhere ‘a little different’ for my birthday dinner. I was super excited not only at the prospect of experiencing something new but also with the opportunity to share some glorious photos with you. The experience certainly did not disappoint. However, my aim of capturing photos for this post was rendered somewhat obsolete.
Dans Le Noir
The below photo effectively sums up the evening:
No, your browser hasn’t broken, that is an image of pitch black darkness. Did he lock me in a cupboard? Take me down to the London Dungeons and leave me there? Blindfold me and leave me on the underground?
Fortunately not. He took me to a restaurant called Dans Le Noir; you may recall it from the film About Time. The unique concept is that the restaurant is in total darkness, hence my lack of pictures.
You enter a relatively unsuspecting building to be met with a bar, seating area and lockers. First you are given a choice of menus: meat, vegetarian or chef’s surprise. Other than the title, you have no idea of the contents of each menu, so fussy eaters beware! Having ordered your food and drink, you are asked to leave all your personal items in a locker. This includes any potentially light-emitting devices such as phones or glow-in-the-dark watches.
Entering Pitch Black
You are then led up a long corridor to meet your waiter at the end. All the waiting staff are completely blind so they are very much accustomed to the environment. My chap placed his hand on my shoulder, I placed my hand on the waiter’s shoulder and we were led through several curtains and into a room of darkness. And I mean dark – total pitch black.
Surrounded by an unusually loud level of restaurant chatter, we were slowly led to our table. Admittedly, the first ten minutes of being in this situation are bizarre. You feel completely exposed and vulnerable, at the mercy of your trusty waiter and with no sense of your surroundings. Nevertheless, as time goes on you become more comfortable with the discomfort and what ensues is a hilarious and messy dinner.
To start with, the waiter asked my chap to pour our water (presumably for a laugh). He did just that, or so he thought, until he naively handed me an empty glass. Apparently it’s harder than you think!
When your food arrives you have no choice but to have a feel. Whether you eat with your fingers or attempt a knife and fork is up to you. All too often my fingers went from being dunked in the food on the plate to accidentally landing in my glass of wine (you may be relieved to know that wine is served in tumblers, thank goodness). Playing a constant guessing game with the food you are consuming puts a new and exciting twist on a dinner date.
Mishaps inevitably happen. My foot got stamped on halfway through our meal – my fault for leaving it sticking out! My chap was a little taken aback when I dropped his fork on the floor and the waiter refused to replace it (which I of course found hilarious). With nothing whatsoever to focus on, your senses are inevitably heightened. Sounds are louder, tastes are stronger and touch is intensified.
Once we had finished making a mess, we were led out of the restaurant and back into the light. Here we were shown what we had just eaten. I thought it would be easy to guess but we realised that we’d mostly guessed wrong!
For more information have a look at the Dans Le Noir website – they have restaurants in London, Paris, Barcelona, Saint-Petersburg and Nairobi. It’s not cheap but then you are not only paying for great food but also for the overall experience. A completely bizarre but equally thrilling experience that I would highly recommend (unless you are a fussy eater or suffer from claustrophobia). It’s different, it’s quirky and it’s fun.