The idea is that you leave everything at the door in Dans Le Noir in Clerkenwell. Literally. Leave your Coats, bags, phones (phone separation anxiety is real) and everything else before walking into the abyss. You very quickly realise that it’s not your usual ‘dark’ - the type of dark where your eyes eventually adjust and you can see faint outlines. It’s totally and utterly painstakingly pitch black and the most interesting result to occur from this is our change in behaviour and perception.

Some avid filmgoers might recognise this as the place where Domhnall Gleeson’s character in About Time meets the love of his life played by Rachel McAdams. It’s a beautiful notion, but the reality isn’t quite the same. There are no accidental graces of the hands; you’re more likely to knock over the wine. So keep your hands to yourself. Also, don’t be expecting to whisper sweet nothings to one another because volume levels are higher than average. It’s our subconscious way of compensating for a lack of sight. It’s these behavioural patterns that inspired the whole concept behind Dans Le Noir as they try to shift and challenge our perceptions.

It’s perfectly constructed for those curious cats among us. It’s predominantly marketed as an experience rather than a restaurant, and encourages a sensory journey that heightens taste and smell. You’ll be seated on what the restaurant calls, ‘a social table’ which is presumably a really big dining table. These close quarters are specifically designed to promote social conversations with fellow diners without any preconceptions. While you participate in pushing social etiquette and boundaries (talking to strangers?!), you’ll be waiting for your surprise food.

The menu is top secret and you can choose from vegetarian, meat, fish or the chefs special. The idea is to use your taste buds blindly while playing the classic game, Guess What You’re Eating. Handy tip: keep your serviette close because most diners ditch the knife and fork and dive in with their hands as it’s much easier. There are mixed reviews on the quality of the food and prices start from £46 so bear in mind that you are paying for the whole experience, not just the cuisine. The food itself is unique and at times experimental. For instance, their old menu had options like crab custard with strawberry puree and pan fried crocodile with duck fat roasted potatoes.

Nothing in Dans Le Noir is conventional and they pride themselves on this. It’s also admirable that the restaurant runs smoothly thanks to their visually impaired team. This ‘blind’ experience is in fact quite an eye-opener. It harks back to a time when I could eat my food without waiting for its photoshoot to be over (shout out to all my Snapchat-obsessed friends). It’s revolutionary in the way that it encourages social interactions and there is no judging of any covers; it completely disregards the appearance of your fellow diners, the food itself and the restaurant décor. In their own words, Dans Le Noir is ‘totally devoid of vanity’ and for this reason alone, it’s worth the visit.

Written by Nikki

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