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Light Research @ MMU

Dans le Noir

The London restaurant Dans le Noir offers diners the experience of eating in the dark. The restaurant is staffed by blind waiters who are adept at guiding diners to their tables and serving them with food.

 The guiding philosophy of the restaurant is to provide a dining experience that takes place without the usual sense of sight in order to ‘to completely re-evaluate the notions of taste and smell’. This worked for me, as the darkness focused attention on the intensity of the food, its flavours, consistencies, chewiness, smoothness or graininess. Choosing the Chef Surprise Menu (diners may choose between meat, seafood and vegetarian menus), we were challenged to identify the food according to its tastes and textures – and this would be revealed upon exiting the dining room. A starter of salmon and dessert of passion fruit cheesecake was easy to identify but the main course, featuring ox cheeks, springbok and crocodile was impossible to guess! Though the sense of taste was enhanced in the dark, other sensory experience was less comfortable. It was surprisingly easy to work out by touch that which was nearby: the wall next to us, the position of the plate, cutlery and glasses of drink were all easily detectable, though eating with a knife and fork proved difficult because it was hard to locate the food on the plate without using fingers. However, beyond this, the size of the room, the number of diners, the décor and other features were entirely a matter for speculation. In fact, the acoustics in the room meant that though the conversations of those in neighbouring seats could be heard, beyond this there was a general babble in which few sounds could be distinguished. We got there early and as we sat in darkness, more diners arrived and the noise became cacophonous. My attempts to guess the number of diners and the size of the room on the basis of these sounds were completely hopeless. I had imagined the room to be small, perhaps some six metres square, but it was about four times that size, and I guessed that around 16 diners were accompanying us. In fact, there were 60. See

January 14th, 2013 - 12:13pm