Love and food have for centuries intertwined, sometimes in replacement of each other or other times to aid the love of the other. The restaurant ‘Dans le Noir?’ features in the 2013 motion picture ‘About Time’ where *spoiler* the lovers first meet in the restaurant in total darkness. That seemed as good an indication as any to potentially meet my soulmate of food in the dark.
Since the pandemic my love of dining has taken a back seat and like many people with relationships, been neglected. I needed to get back out there and to experience that love again. So naturally a blind date with food under the umbrella of an actual blind experience with my food seemed a great point to start especially with Valentine’s Day approaching.
Nestled in the middle of Farringdon in London sits ‘Dans le Noir?’ which is ranked one of the 10 most original restaurants for its concept. The food is seasonal and has creative twists, all eaten in complete darkness. Like Agatha Christie’s Mouse Trap and its murderer, the menu is revealed at the end of the experience and you are asked to also keep it a secret after.
We are met at the door warmly and given our personal guide who is blind himself called Ghow. He leads us into the darkness and weaves us into the main room by having my arm on his shoulder and my best friend on mine. It is a humbling moment to understand that is his everyday life and that his love for food goes past sight, like the love you read about in novels.
Our very own waiter, Fabio, is just a mention of his name away, a reassuring reminder of loyal and caring relationships – as well as a reassurance my best friend and I won’t be left to fend for ourselves in a pitch-black room with many obstacles. We are given the menu option of either red – meat, blue – fish or green – vegetarian/vegan. Then we are left at the mercy and delight of not knowing what will be arriving on our plates, like many new relationships with unknown futures.
Our experience was made up of a starter and main paired with a different wine each time followed by a dessert and a surprise cocktail. Not only is it a sensory experience with your food but also the company you are with. Trying each other’s wine was as tactical and precise as a NASA space launch. The quote of the night was my best friend trying to direct me to the water ‘North of your plate at 11 o’clock’.
Trying to rely on how the food felt and smelt, unlocked new ways of focusing and appreciating it from the texture to the consistency. New bursts of flavours in a way represented the new excitements of milestones in relationships as they develop and with the pleasant surprises one finds along the way. Like all relationships, sometimes the grass appears greener and you don’t always appreciate what you have. In the case of our cocktails, my best friend was convinced my cocktail tasted better than her own so we switched, only to discover after that it had been the same drink!
Naturally some elements of relationships should and do remain private, like the menu we experienced. It is private between me and my experience. I can say this, the food was excellent and exceeded expectations. It unearthed childhood memories, excited me around trying new things and above all, taught me to not overlook what I have and to make every experience count including my sight.
This March only, ‘Dans le Noir?’ is set to open its first pop-up restaurant at Swinfen Hall Hotel, a stately manor house in the heart of Staffordshire, offering visitors this wholly unique dining experience. My experience went beyond food and strengthened my relationship with my best friend too. An experience that we will never forget.
This is my love letter to food. Happy Valentine’s.
To discover more, visit: london.danslenoir.com
All imagery courtesy of Dans le Noir?
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