Hidden within London is a little place called Farringdon. And there lies Dans Le Noir.
From the outside, it looks like a dodgy massage house with its blacked out windows, but translate the name to ‘In the Dark’ and all becomes clear.
Upon entering to the well-lit lobby, you are presented with your menu options; Meat, Fish, Vegetarian or Chef’s Choice.
Next you select the number of courses, we opted for two courses – starter and main – with a glass of wine that came to a reasonable £46. The menu remains a surprise until you’ve finished the meal.
After storing our luggage in the secured lockers, we entered the belly of the beast with visually impaired Jack as our host.
Forming a human train, we walked through the plush velvet curtains to be plunged in to pitch black darkness. With no sense of awareness, our feet shuffled across the floor whilst our eyes desperately searched for something to see.
“Here you go ladies, place your left hand on the top of the chair and take a seat. In front of you will be your napkin, we recommend placing it on your neck or lap to save the cost of dry cleaning later.”
A sign of things to come?
“Part of the experience is that you pour your water yourself.”
Meandering around to unscrew the bottle top, locate your glass and then pour is no mean feat. Fortunately, my instincts kicked in and I avoided pouring it over the table and successfully into the cup.
Out come the starters. Since you can’t feel the food on your fork, you have no choice but to adopt paleo and fumble with your fingers.
Something cold, but meaty. A little squidgy. Oh! There’s some sticky sauce. And there’s the salad.
With the starters devoured, in come Gary and Liz.
What at first gave the illusion of a single table for two, inherently became a long trestle table. We welcomed our new guests.
Something amazing happens when you’re blind to everything around you with no mobile distractions. You start to have a conversation. We traded travel recommendations with a Scottish couple whose faces we will never see.
Here comes the main course. Shaped like Micky Mouse, the plate offered three circular compartments for which to stick your fingers in. At this point, all resolve has gone out of the window and we don’t even bother picking up the cutlery.
A delicious meal, that was over too soon, we boarded our train and headed for the exit. Like a light at the end of the tunnel, we were soon blinking at the lights making a beeline for the washroom to wash our sticky fingers.
Cleaned up and ready for the snow, we were seated at the bar ready to reveal what the hell we had just eaten.
Voted best culinary experience of 2017 in the British Restaurant Awards, Dans Le Noir is a dining-in-the-dark experience that will change your perspective of the world by experiencing it from the point of view of its visually impaired hosts. According to the worldwide chain, it is a sensory experience that awakens your senses and enables you to completely re-evaluate your perception of taste and smell.
The question is, will you keep your eyes open or closed?