Last Tuesday we were invited by Dans le Noir for a unique experience : dining in the complete darkness! Dans Le Noir was started in Paris in 2004 and founder Edouard de Broglie took a bet on this risky project at first but has since enjoyed real success all over the world (Paris, London, Madrid, St Petersberg, Barcelona, Nantes and now Auckland).
The location is pretty central, on the first floor of the well recognized Rydges Hotel, a few meters from the skytower.
The experience is even more unique as all waiters are blind or partially sighted and will guide you during the whole experience. From management to guide/waiters, 50% of the staff has a disability -a rare business model – without any public or charity support.
The staff will start by asking if you have any food allergies or dietary requirements and you will then select your menu (3 Options: Vegan, Seafood or Surprise Menu). Once the menu has been selected you will line up behind your waiter who will guide you into the restaurant.
Behind a black velvet curtain lies a labyrinth of corridors and you are guided to your table in a group led by your designated server. Be sure to keep your left hand on the person in front of you’s shoulder or you could get lost! Yes it really is that dark – you can not make out shapes or even see your hands in front of your face. It was a bit strange at the beginning but our waiters were really good and comforting. As a result your other senses are heightened.
Once seated, you’re encouraged to speak to fellow diners. If you’re shy this is a great way to lose your inhibitions as it is a really social experience. We attended during the official press launch and were treated to a sample of the menu. When the first course arrived, we had so much fun guessing what it could be by smelling our plates and feeling the texture of the dish.
The first course was a seared tuna steak with crispy seaweed on top. Some of us thought it was kingfish, some were not even sure if it was fish at all! You won’t know until the end.
The second course was a beef fillet accompanied by a truffle puree – a match made in heaven.
Guesses amongst the table were either beef or venison. We all guessed truffle was part of the dish.
We were encouraged to use our hands to eat the dessert which proved to be a very fun and interactive experience. We all felt a jelly mound in the centre of the plate, freeze dried raspberries and a bitesize piece of chocolate brownie. We discovered at the end that the jelly was pannacotta.
At the end of the dinner, our waiter guided us back to the entrance and advised us to not open our eyes too quickly as it would take time for our eyes to adjust.
They weren’t wrong as the light was really blinding when we emerged.
Diners are encouraged to engage with their waiters and to ask them questions throughout the meal. Some of them even have a secret talent!
We had the opportunity to meet the chef at the end of the dinner and also to view all of the dishes we had eaten. There were some very surprising reactions.
During your experience, you will be shown what you have eaten on a picture at the end – you may be surprised!
Many thanks to the team of Dans le Noir? and Rydges Auckland for this one of a kind experience. We will be back soon for sure
We highly recommend this unique experience – the first of its kind in the South Pacific. Definitely for the fun and interactive experience but also because the taste of the food and the selection of the wines were amazing.
And don’t worry, the menu is different from what we experienced last week so you will still be surprised.
Dans le Noir? opened its doors on the 26th March and is open from Thursday to Sunday.
It is also open on Saturdays and Sundays for lunch, so to book your table, click Here.
Dans le Noir? at the Rydges Hotel,
59 Federal St,
Tel: 09 375 5920