London is a notorious hot bed for swanky restaurants and cutting-edge dining experiences, and Dans le Noir, settled in the heart of the city, only serves to bolster this reputation. Exactly what is says on the French tin, this now rather well-known restaurant offers guests the unique culinary experience of eating your meal completely shrouded in darkness.
Now, my somewhat sceptical mind questioned how dark it would be – as surely there would be some fragment of light or slight gleam that would enable you to discern what your meal is? And just so you’re fully looped in, you are not only blind to your surroundings during the meal, but you are also unaware of what you are eating, with your meal chosen for you ahead of time. However, my cynical notions were instantly blanketed by complete and utter darkness. No gleam from an exit sign. No shimmer off the cutlery. Pitch black.
Thankfully, I was guided by our blind waiter, Azir, who with my hand on his shoulder tactfully guided me past the other tables through the restaurant and to our own table. He kindly let us know that our glasses of wine would be brought to us, and from then on, the courses would start rolling out.
Settling in, we began to hear the hum of other guests around us, which between the small capacity of the restaurant and the darkness, created a profound sense of intimacy. You could quite easily drop into other people’s conversations or feel the need to reach across and touch your partner to check that they were still there in amidst the darkness.
But with drink in hand, and partly down myself, the three-course menu began to roll out…
Oven baked salmon with a parsnip emulsion and crisp.
Duck breast served with dauphinois potatoes, vegetables, and a black cherry jus.
A deconstructed apple crumble with cinnamon ice cream.
As you can imagine, it was all utterly delicious, and as an avid foodie, I managed to nail most of the flavours without eating the meal with my eyes first. But I must admit, it was actually a lot harder to pin down the flavours than I had expected, with salmon and parsnip – despite their usually distinct taste – being my trickiest flavours to identify.
With the meal at an end, we were again guided out of the restaurant by Azir and sat at what now felt like an incredibly well-lit bar in the foyer of the restaurant. To finish off the experience, we were shown pictures of our dishes before they had been served to us, so that we could reconcile taste with sight and give full kudos to the chefs, who not only created a divinely flavoured meal but had plated it beautifully for us.
All in all, I couldn’t recommend the experience enough. I thoroughly enjoyed not only my meal and the experience, but also the deeper meaning that was naturally planted in your head, of what it would be like to lose your sight. If ever you get the chance, go – my only advice would be to wear dark colours, or you may do irreparable damage to your white jeans as I did.