Every few months a few of my friends get dressed up and go out somewhere nice for dinner. In the past, we’ve been to Jamie Oliver’s Barbecoa and Duck and Waffle. We tend to go to places we’ve all talked about going to but haven’t yet managed to make our way there.
This time we went for a dining experience that I just can’t compare to anything. We went to Dans Le Noir?
In case you’ve never heard of Dans Le Noir? before it is a restaurant that operates in complete darkness. You’re given the option of four different, surprise menus. Red (meat), blue (fish and seafood), green (veggie and vegan) or white (chef’s special). That’s the grand total you learn about what you’re going to eat.
I figured, that if I was going to go all the way with this crazy sensory experience I should definitely choose the white menu. Exotic meat and seafood, here I come!
This feels like a really silly thing to say but I can’t even explain how dark it was in there. It’s a darkness like I’ve never experienced in my life before. I kept waiting for my eyes to adjust to it so I could make out the shapes of my friends or my glass but they never did. I couldn’t see my own hand in front of my face. It was something it took a while to kind of get used to, and I mean only, kind of.
It’s true what they say about when you take one sense away the others become heightened. That was apparent pretty soon after we stepped into the room. The smell of all the food was so strong. It was a tasty smell and each of my dishes smelt incredible. But it was like a wall that hit you as you stepped through the curtains. Also, it was so loud. Felicity and I agreed that we felt like we could hear conversations from about three tables away. It was no louder than the pub down the road we’d met in half an hour before but it became almost overwhelming at times. And I’d find myself just sitting there trying to take it all in.
Although, when I did talk I found it pretty funny. I’ve never used people’s names so often. You can’t just turn your head to address someone so you’d have to announce who you were talking to first.
The moment my starter was placed before me, I realised there was one big problem with not being able to see what’s on your plate. How do I know where it is? I could feel the plate but without sticking my hands straight into my dinner how could I tell how much was on there? We eat with our eyes they say, well this time I couldn’t and I stumbled over a few hurdles.
I’ll be honest, it took me a lot longer than it usually would to finish a meal. Mostly because half the time the fork arrived at my mouth completely empty. It did mean, though, that I stopped eating when I was full and not when the plate was clean. I didn’t put that expectation to finish everything on myself. An expectation I don’t think I realised I actually had.
When we had finished eating, and the lovely Fabio had escorted us from our seats back into the light, we went upstairs. Sitting with a drink in the lit lounge upstairs, we were presented with our menus. We’d been talking about the things we thought were on our plates while we were eating. But until this point, we had no idea if our deductions were even close.
The menu even had photos of each meal so we could see exactly how they were presented. They were beautiful. So, down to my mystery meal. I had, for starter, scallops. They were huge and pillowy. The nicest I’ve ever had. For main, there were three small dishes in a sort of flower shaped plate. One section was grilled halibut. I wasn’t a fan, but only because I don’t really like fishy tasting fish. If that makes sense. The next section held sticky, smoked reindeer. Yep, Rudolph was tasty. Finally, and probably my favourite of the three was an open crocodile pie! I know right?! The dessert was delicious too. It was a blackberry pannacotta on a crunchy base.
I know that had I seen the menu before had, I’d have never chosen any of these things. So I was really pleased that I’d had the opportunity to try them. And as much as I enjoyed that pie, I won’t be ordering it again. I love that my memory of these crazy dishes are linked to such an exceptional night.
I’d highly recommend to anyone a night at Dans Le Noir? I felt nervous going in but had a really great experience.