Imagine a birthday party held entirely in the black–from beginning to end…on purpose. That is what occurred last night as Yendi and I celebrated our friend Nancy’s xth year of beauty at the Dans Le Noir restaurant, located at 51 rue Quincampoix, 75004 Paris.
Aside from the bio-physical shock of sitting down to eat at the Mediterranean hour of 11pm [we finished at well nigh 2am], it was a total experience. Yendi and I were seated at a table of 6 along with 2 perfect strangers (no idea of who they were) and two other members of the birthday party, including an old friend and a new acquaintance [both of whom had wives at the neighbouring table].
Eating [and drinking] in pitch black was a surrealist experience. It is, of course, designed to help us understand what it is like being blind. Groping for [non crystal] wine glasses across a plate of unknown food, one’s risk was also that your hand might graze your stranger’s. One guest ended up bailing finding it a bit too much. The pitch black is in fact an exaggeration in that it is rare for a blind person to receive no light whatsoever.
However, the largest insight came from a 20-minute discussion with one of the “blind” servers. It is intensely interesting to understand the nuances of such a handicap. One of the servers recounted that he has a dark violet pall over his eyes. Our server, 90% blind, sees shapes and movement and doesn’t need a stick to walk in the streets. The establishment does not provide any particular training for its servers — which I would find curious even for a normal restaurant.
The experience was powerful, even if, for a Friday night after a long week (and the night before leaving for a 2-week holidays), it were a tad exhausting. Staying awake and alert in the pitch black…grounds for nodding off discretely, no?
And the food? A surprise that I will let you discover. However, the table’s verdict: first course was quite average. The second course was tender and tasty. The wine went down well (not sure how much was actually spilled).
A big thanks to Fred for organizing and joyeux anniversaire to Nancy.
For others blogging: The Paris Traveller blog (which is no longer visible) says justly: if you want to people watch, this isn’t the restaurant for you.
There are similar In the Dark restaurants in Moscow and Montreal… Anyone else know of any other concepts offering different “sensual” experiences?