Thursday, May 25, 2006

EATING IN THE DARK

"I laughed out loud at the first “dark” picture. Writing lol wouldn’t have done it justice."

Dinner is served
I'm always in favor of clever new ideas for a business and am sympathetic toward any new endeavor or product, as I know it represents the best hopes and dreams of someone who came up with it. Sometimes the ideas are poor, but sometimes wierd or poor ideas take on a life of their own and become quite successful.

In London there are a lot of restaurants, and one that has opened is called Dans le Noir, a Parisian food restaurant that serves its food with no lights. As in total, cave-like darkness. The Blogjam Fraser Lewry has a report of his experiences trying out this unique place:

The first thing you notice when entering Dans Le Noir are the reviews. In the manner of all good high street curry houses, the walls are lined with the framed excerpts of favourable reports, in this case a series of searingly pretentious quotes proclaiming the restaurant’s lack of pretension. It’s not a good start, and neither is the wine list, which features both roman alphabet and braille listings. This is a nice touch, except that the Braille is printed on the page, not embossed. In other words, a blind person couldn’t read it.

He ordered some wine in a well-lit bar, then headed into the inky dining area.

We meet our ‘guide’ (they’re not called waitresses, of course) and are led, though a series of thick black curtains, into the dining room where, like it says on the tin (printed in braille, no doubt), it’s absolutely pitch black. You have no idea where your fellow diners are sitting, how many are at the table, how big the room is, or indeed if the guy in the next seat has stripped naked and is rubbing asparagus spears into his groin. It’s genuinely disconcerting. Pouring wine becomes a Krypton Factor-style test of nerve and dexterity, and despite inserting three fingers into the glass to gauge the level, I still manage to soak the tablecloth. Luckily enough no-one can see this, of course, although our guide notices straight away. Pretty soon our first course arrives.

He was, overall, unimpressed with the quality of the food:

Dans Le Noir is a truly interesting experience in sensory deprivation, but the grub is underwhelming and bland. The restaurant would probably argue that because you’re denied sight, your other senses compensate and you appreciate the food in new and pleasurable ways, but this simply isn’t true: your senses are jumping all over the place, trying to adjust to an environment they’ve not experienced before, and it becomes altogether impossible to concentrate on the flavour.

Commenters gave their reviews:
I laughed out loud at the first “dark” picture. Writing lol wouldn’t have done it justice.
Was it as pricey as it was pretentious?
-by phenoptix
[he responded: "it was £34" (that's about 50 bucks US) "for the three courses. Wine was extra."]

I laughed out loud too. What a shame about the food.

Its one of those places you kind of guess would end up being all about the gimmick, but hope it isn’t.
And having the menu in printed braille is appalling. It turns the whole thing into an embarrassing theme restaurant.
I once did a project with the RNIB. They were talking about restaurant experiences which included: in braille ’see board for specials’ and also the name of the restaurant *over the top ofthe door* in giant braille. How is anyone supposed to reach that?

Shame… makes you wonder what the pointof this restaurant is…
-by pep


Not cheap then, but not madly pricey for London. What sort of chef wants his creations served where they can’t be seen, good food isn’t just about flavour, it’s about presentation and impact on the eye, er, unless you’re blind of course.
-by Yorkshire Soul


One thing you didn’t mention was that the portions seemed incredibly small - one reason I ended up scrabbling around my plate with my fingers was that I was hunting for the rest of the food.

I’m convinced my “3 tastes of foie gras” as actually only 2 tastes. Unless my third fell off somewhere, I think I was sold short.
-by Mike


Of course, the management are filming everything on night vision cameras and are totally raking it in after cutting a deal with the makers of “You’ve Been Framed”.
-scaryduck


“Apart from hearing. I’m not sure if that matters so much.”
Usually no, but there are some examples. Like the sizzling hot plate you can hear before it even gets to your table – or someone else’s table for that matter. That’s a guaranteed way to get me salivating. That and when the bloke with the beard over there rings that bell. I wish he’d stop doing that.
-by gusset


I agree completely. The food has almost nothing to do with the experience - having over-excited conversations with the other guests who’s voices emerge from the ether as if you’re talking to them on the phone is truly hilarious.
The food is almost a distraction, and I, having ordered the surprise menu, couldn’t tell what the Hell I was eating. I still have no idea, and don’t really care.
I’m going back in July though…booked it today. It really is an experience and a good old laugh.
But spare a thought for the cleaners….imagine the mess at the end of the evening!
-by nick27

Apparently the staff is mostly or entirely blind, which makes the printed braille even more odd. Unless you're Daredevil.


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1 comment:

Christopher Taylor said...

There were a couple comments I didn't add to this one because they were somewhat racy, but very, very funny. I recommend checking the website.