My latest venture in London saw me trying out a restaurant known as ‘Dans Le Noir’ (in the black).
The restaurant is situated in Clerkenwell, and is ran by blind waiters. When you arrive, you are introduced to your waiter for the evening and asked to stand in single file with your hands on the shoulders of the person infront of you so that the waiter can lead you to your table.
You pass through a black curtain and are met with darkness like you have ever experienced before. The majority of the time, even during the night we are surrounded by some form of light, whether that be moonlight or streetlights, we are never completely immersed in darkness and my first feeling was one of claustrophobia.
It took some will to keep going and follow my friends to our table, instead of turning around and running away. The best way to describe the darkness you experience is enveloping – you can’t escape it.
Our waiter helped each of us into our seats, guided our hands to where our cutlery and glasses were and explained how to pour our drinks – we were to dip a finger into our glasses and stop pouring once our fingers touched the liquid.
When you make your booking you can pick either a meat, fish, veggie or surprise menu (I played it safe and picked meat) but you aren’t told what dishes you will be brought until after you have eaten them.
I’m a little embarrassed to say that after several failed attempts of picking up my starter with my cutlery, I resorted to using my hands.. After all, no one could see what I was doing right?
Eating without being able to see the food you are putting in your mouth made me realise that we eat with our eyes. Our starter turned out to be a burger – my favourite kind of food – but I found it tasted horrible and left most of it.
After a while of being in the dark, you become accustomed to it, not in the sense that you can make out shapes as you literally can’t see a thing, but in the sense that you become aware of your surroundings and proximity. I could pick up my glass without having to search for it, I understood how far away my friends were that were sat opposite me. It was kind of enlightening and shows how quickly we can adjust when we are thrust into unusual situations.
My favourite part of the entire evening was that not one person in the restaurant used their phones, when you arrive you lock your belongings in a locker and are even asked to remove watches that glow to ensure the restaurant is kept in complete darkness. So the entire evening was spent with my favourite friends, just having good old fashioned conversations with no interruptions or distractions from the outside world.
Tickets start at £46 and can be bought here: http://booking-london.danslenoir.fr/