Thursday, 10 October 2013

Five Blind Mice

Earlier this year I had the great pleasure of attending a restaurant that challenged the taste buds and the sense of smell but left everything to the imagination with regards to presentation. A restaurant where you cannot chose the dishes you eat, the wine that you drink or the cocktails you can chose to enjoy. This choice is left to the serving team who are responsible for everything from the moment you place your trust in them until you ask to leave.

We arrived at the restaurant and were asked to deposit all of our mobile phones, cameras, bags etc. into a secure locker. We were then asked about allergies etc. and were told to chose a meat, fish, vegetarian or surprise menu. We were then led to our table and this is where the fun began.

We went through a set of curtains into a dimly lit area and introduced to our over we were instructed to place a hand on the shoulder of the person in front of us, the front person placing their hand on the shoulder of the waiter and we walked through more sets of curtains into total darkness.

We had decided to experience the pleasures of a restaurant chain called 'Dans Le Noir' ( ). This restaurant adds an edge to the eating experience, clever menus, well chosen wine and fun cocktails are assembled and presented to you in complete darkness.

Having had our safety talk and been led to our table we settled into our seats and tried to familiarise our self with our surroundings. Feeling around the table I found my knife, fork, napkin and glass. The waiter poured us a glass of water and we watched as our brains played tricks. faint lights and patterns danced in our brains until we became used to there being no light. Around this point the starters emerged and the smell was stunning. With no visual clues, our noses worked overtime picking up hints as to what was being delivered. Our party consisted of five people. Each of us was a little quiet at first in these unfamiliar conditions. Once the starter courses had arrived and we had settled down a little then the fun began.

Eating in the dark will be easy I though. Oh how wrong I was. Without the visual clues just trying to find the food on the plate with a knife and fork was challenging enough. Once located I then had to cut a piece that was small enough to eat, get it on the fork and get this to my mouth. I failed a few times but soon began to feel the hard or soft reaction as I located food or plate. Identifying what I was eating was more of a challenge as I had ordered the 'surprise' menu. I knew there appeared to be seasoned and dressed raw fish in my starter but could I be sure that was what I was eating.

Main course was easier, steak. But then there were three or four flavours of steak. One was clearly beef but I correctly identified another as Zebra but it was not until the menu revelation after the meal that this was confirmed and the other items became apparent.

This is not a place to go for a romantic meal for two. In my opinion you need a group of friends who enjoy a bit of fun. By the end of the meal, bread baskets had been placed on heads. Ice cold hands courtesy of the cocktail were placed on bare necks and backs, glasses were moved and at least one member of our party managed to scoop part of their meal onto the table only to find it later . This place is great fun. An education in the difficulties faced by those with poor or no vision and the additional pleasure they gain from heightened sensitivity to sound, texture, taste and smell that we ignore as we devour the visual presentation. I cannot wait to go again.

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