We’ve tried: Dans le Noir? – dining in the dark in Barcelona

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    Billed as “more than a restaurant – a uniquely sensory experience”, Dans Le Noir‘s marketing is certainly intriguing. The concept? Quite simply, dinner in the dark. Where you’re served by blind waiters. Seated beside total strangers. And eat with your hands.

    See what we mean about intriguing?

    Never ones to turn down a spot of sensory deprivation on a Saturday night, we put on our best gladrags (and then felt slightly confused about why we were bothering) and headed along to Dans le Noir’s restauant on Paseo Picasso, flanking Ciutadella Park. Not without a touch of trepidation, it has to be said.

    Reach out and touch faith

    Dans le noir entranceSipping our welcome drinks in the restaurant’s reception area, we were starting to feel a bit more at ease. The staff were clearly used to answering questions from consternated guests who were just starting to realise what they’d let themselves in for.

    “What if someone robs me in the dark?!”

    – “Impossible – you leave all your possessions in the lockers provided beforehand.”

    “I’m vegetarian. And Coeliac. What if you poison me?”

    – “Don’t worry. We have note of that and we’ve adapted your individual menu especially.”

    “What if I need the toilet?”

    – “Just call on one of the waiters and they will escort you out.”

    Suitably reassured, we left our belongings in the locker provided, and took our place in the little line of people that had gathered in front of the impressively thick black curtain. One hand on the shoulder of the person in front, in a sort of subdued version of the conga, we stepped forward, and were soon engulfed by complete darkness.entering Dans le noir

    By which we mean, total blackout. The kind of pitch darkness that, when you think about it, we rarely – if ever – experience nowadays, as one of the other diners pointed out. Even at night time, the chances are you’re exposed to some infiltration of light, from the street lights outside, the alarm clock, or just as likely, your mobile phone.

    So we inched forward, feeling our way along what were presumably walls, exhilarated by the experience of having to rely on our other senses to do something as basic as walk to our seats.

    In the dark, everyone can hear you shout

    Safely at our seats, the real fun began. The staff had explained beforehand that diners in the dark tend to compensate for their loss of vision by, frankly, shouting to each other at the top of their voices. And they had a point. Several times the waiters had to shush the guests as we got a bit too animated, hollering at each other excitedly. ‘Observing’ people’s social quirks in the dark was proving fascinating.

    Where black is white

    So what of the food itself? Robbed of the ability to appreciate colours and visual presentation, would we still enjoy it?

    Well, yes, but in a totally unexpected way.

    Although cutlery is provided for the squeamish, we quickly realised that a) trying to locate the fork, b) trying to engage the fork with the food and c) trying to steer said fork successfully towards our mouths, was all more hassle than it was worth. So we did the sensible thing, and felt for the food with our fingers. Plus, in the dark, touching your food seems fundamental to understanding what it is you’re about to eat.

    dans le noir wineSqueals of excitement quickly turned to heated debate, as we tried to guess what jelly-like substance we had just made contact with. Aubergine? A blob of mashed potato? A boiled egg? (Miserable Fail. It was in fact tuna.)

    With each progressive dish, our guesswork seemed to get worse. Most interesting was listening to people’s take on the different wines that were served with each course. You could almost feel Alex, our blind waiter, smiling to himself in the darkness, as preconceptions came tumbling down. Deprived of the sense of sight, we were forced to simply savour the taste on our tongue, rather than rushing to announce “I don’t like that”. Intriguing indeed.

    The big reveal

    Having wolfed down all four courses (and the accompanying wine), it was time to head towards the light. Oh the relief.

    Back at the bar, the staff showed us exactly what we had eaten on the laptop (and the food looked amazing!). It was here that we realised aubergine was in fact tuna, that white wine was red and that rosé can really throw a spanner in the works.

    dans le noir food revealSo what did we make of the whole experience?

    In a word – novel.

    The food itself was delicious, and yet hard to evaluate, given the total obscurity in which we ate it. Perhaps inevitably, the most fun part was interacting with the other diners, all in it together, in what turned out to be a truly social experiment. There’s nothing like a bit of mutual trepidation to break the ice and get you chatting to the people around you, in what seemed like a totally natural – and refreshing – way. Definitely one to try while you’re in Barcelona.

    Claim your Dans Le Noir? discount

    The good news is that if you book your Barcelona holiday apartment through either Oh-Barcelona.com or GowithOh.com, you’re automatically entitled to a 10% discount off a Dans Le Noir? dinner in the dark. Go for it – we might ‘see’ you there.

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