Dans Le Noir, EC1R 0DU
- 020 7253 1100
- 30-31 Clerkenwell Green, EC1R 0DU
- Fixed sittings: two in the evening on weekdays, three including lunch on weekends
A experiential restaurant in Clerkenwell in which you eat surprise food in absolute pitch blackness. Dans Le Noir? is an exercise in sensory deprivation where you are served unknown food by blind people in a room with no light sources, no phones and no watches.
secretlondon visited with friends in January 2018. We booked, as you have to.
You arrive, are offered free coffee and put your things in a locker. No hot drinks are allowed in the dining room. You are led in a snake by your waiter to your chair. You work out where the table, cutlery and food is by touch. You find a way of pouring water into your glass by using your fingers. You have a choice of menus — exotic meats, meat, fish and vegetarian.
Food is interesting. The menu is a secret until the end. I think I identify food by firstly being told what it is and secondly by sight. I find it hard to identify flavours if I'm not told what something is.
This is one above that. You identify the food by taste and mouth feel, and the resistance against your fork, and sometimes using your fingers. I was better at identifying things with my fingers than anything else. I don't think I used smell very much if at all.
In the pitch black my brain kept seeing light shapes. Lines, kaleidoscope patterns and botches. All black and white — no colour. Noise in the optic nerve? I'm intrigued.
When I moved my hand in front of me I "saw" it, even though I didn't. I think my brain knew it was there as it was the one moving it. Some kind of body spatial awareness?
It's a really interesting experience.
Drawbacks: It was a bit noisy and our table was shared with a group talking German who were in my body space. I think with an English speaking group we would have become one table as you are that close together.
A three course meal was £54 plus 10% service charge, but you are paying for the experience as much as the food.