Restaurant Review: Dans Le Noir

Getting back to dating basics at a restaurant where love really is blind

You dine in the dark, they said. You can’t see your food, they said. It’ll be fun, they said. And Dans Le Noir was certainly an extraordinary experience. One in a series of international sensory eateries, the blind-dining London restaurant is modestly situated on a quiet street near Farringdon station.

On arrival we were met by our host and given a locker in which to secure our belongings – Dans Le Noir strictly prohibits carrying mobile phones and cameras into the restaurant area, a welcome change from our usual social norms. Introduced to our sight-impaired waiter Adi (who I’d known from a previous life in Glasgow), we were led in a conga, hand-on-shoulder fashion, through the heavy curtains and into darkness. Unsure of how we would feel, and wondering if our eyes might adjust, we realised that, as dates go, this one was going to be different…

When it came to ordering, we chose two of the four available menu options. Predictably, I chose the safe option and opted for the meat (the Red Menu), while my date went for the fish (the Blue Menu). Also on offer were vegetarian options (the Green Menu) or, for London’s gastronomic adventurers or those just looking to impress their partner, the Chef’s Surprise (the White Menu).

When the first course arrived, my date soon identified her succulent scallops while I fished around my plate in search of a familiar taste or texture. By the end of this course we had established that for the rest of the meal we would be playing a guessing game, not just about what we were eating, but also about how to locate our wine glasses.

Giving up the search for any remaining food on our plates, we moved on to the next course, and I proudly recognised part of my choice as perfectly seasoned duck, complemented with steamed green beans; however, the remainder of my course was a mystery. My date didn’t have as much success with guessing the specifics of her meal, but from across the table I could smell the party of fish on her plate. The food is delicious, though it doesn’t come cheap, and it’s important to realise that you’re paying not just for food and service, but for an opportunity to experience something well out of the ordinary.

As our desserts were cleared, conversation was in full swing with the couple sharing our table – we had been guessing each other’s appearances based solely on our verbal interactions, and for this alone Dans Le Noir is a great experience for established couples. For those who have been on dates of all shapes and sizes, Dans le Noir offers an experience that is completely different – a little daring, a little novel.

Rest assured that feeling a bit silly as you adjust to what’s going on is completely normal, and you’ll realise quickly that you’re not alone. Removing the visual element from the dating and restaurant experience puts every guest on the same level, forcing you back to the basics of any relationship – verbal communication and honesty. Without distractions, dates become what they are supposed to be: a chance to get to know someone better, no matter how well you already know them. That said, if you’re considering Dans Le Noir as a first-date location, take a bib, and maybe don’t wear a white shirt. Oh, and don’t worry – the menu changes every couple of months, so we haven’t given anything away!

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