When you usually think about a restaurant dining experience, self-reflection is not usually the first thing that comes to mind.
The normal considerations are food style and quality, aesthetic, your dining companions, maybe even price. All these (and others you will have thought of by now) contribute to the overall experience which then adds up to whether the evening is enjoyable and something you would want to do again.
Dans le Noir? is different.
It offers a dining experience that you will not find elsewhere in any other restaurant, and self-reflection is a large part of the experience.
It also offers a fresh take on dining with the people you know and even a unique experience with food that you have unlikely come across before.
How does it do all this? By allowing you to dine in the dark. And we are not just talking about a dim-lit room with a few candles; we mean Pitch Black.
The Dans le Noir? experience
Dans le Noir? began life in 2004 in Paris, founded by Edouard de Broglie. Since then it has expanded across the globe, and currently has added restaurants in London, Madrid, Cairo, St Petersburg, Auckland and several others.
The idea behind the experience is that, by removing the diners’ sight, their other senses are intensified, or at least, get paid more attention.
This, as it turns out, includes your internal self-dialogue, and heightened awareness of your surroundings – not least the people you are dining with.
The evening will also give you, in a very small way, a partial insight into the world of the visually impaired and what it is like to depend on others.
The experience begins with the removal from yourself of anything that can create light – including your mobile phone and watch. These are securely stores in lockers before you are taken through to the dining room.
Escorting you to your seat is your waiter for the evening; this will be someone who is either blind or partially sighted and right from the start you realise that you are now dependant on this other person.
When your food arrives – eat it however you find easiest (including using your fingers).
Oh – and we forgot to mention – you’ll also have to identify what you are eating! Before entering the dining area, you will have ordered your meal – but the choice is limited to Red, Blue or Green menus. Order Red and your meal will include meat, go Blue for fish and Green will have you served a fine vegan meal.
But what your plate contains is for you to determine! Needless to say, the food is amazing and offers quality dining whatever you choose.
Away from the food, the most unique experience for many is the conversation you end up having. We have already touched on the internal dialogue, but customers often find themselves having a different communication experience with their dining companions.
And in addition to this, you will often find yourself talking to others around you – those sitting close by – and others that you have never met before.
This, for many, is the true experience of Dans le Noir? You find yourself striking up conversations with strangers whom you cannot pre-judge on appearance or any of the other expected visual clues we rely on for communications. You only have their tone of voice and the words they speak with which to form an opinion.
And all this without the distraction of mobile phones, concerns about time or where you are meant to be heading next. Time gets suspended, and you are left focused on what is happening right now.
Indeed, as Dans le Noir? themselves recount, when the then French Prime Minister visited the Paris restaurant in 2004, they were all worried, as he did not utter a word to anyone during the whole experience. Afterwards, however, he explained to Edouard de Broglie: “Tonight, I was with myself and it felt good”.
Whatever you enjoy most about the occasion, we can promise that you will find it totally unique.
And, if you’ll forgive us for saying this, you will find the whole experience a bit of an eye-opener.
Title image source: natravelblog.com