You’re in for a treat” we’re told as the host offers us some pre-dinner drinks, “you’ll be one of the first to try our brand new menu”.

A nice bonus on our first (and long-awaited) visit to Dans le Noir in Clerkenwell, London. Except the catch is, we won’t have a clue what we’re eating until ... we’ve eaten it. That’s the thing about the experience at the capital’s dining in the dark restaurant; it’s full of surprises and added extras. You have to find it first; its inconspicuous façade almost passes you by but once you find the mysterious front door you’re made to feel very welcome.

It was certainly an evening for firsts. First up, my two guests and I were shown to the lockers where we were instructed to put our belongings including any illuminated watches. I must say it felt quite liberating to “have to” lock our phones away for the evening not to be disturbed. And you can see why any light source isn’t permitted in the restaurant itself. Obviously the whole concept is that you’re dining “in the dark” but I underestimated just how dark it would be; you can’t see your hand in front of your face, literally pitch black.

And unlike any other restaurant you’re asked what you can’t eat instead of choosing what you want for your dinner. There are three menus; green for vegetarians, red for meat eaters and white for chef’s surprise.

After being asked what we couldn’t eat instead of choosing what we wanted to eat, another first, we were introduced to our waitress for the night Nadine who proceeded to show us to our table. Well I say show, I mean she had gentle hold of our arms and led us to our seats; we were already in awe at how easily she made her way around all the tables and other diners (it seats up to 60) while we felt completely useless.

Safely in our seats (we could have done with being strapped in) Nadine told us where everything was, from our cutlery to our wine glasses, which in case you’re wondering were very sturdy tumbler-style, hence much less chance of spillage. It took a while to adjust with plenty of feeling our way, luckily there seemed to be quite a lot of space between tables but it’s bizarre how you imagine what the set-up and decor of the restaurant looks like. After the introduction Nadine left us to settle in but it wasn’t long before she was back with our cocktails. The ingredients? A surprise.

But we weren’t complaining; there was no disputing the alcohol content. It probably didn’t help our hand-sense co-ordination in using our cutlery for the starter and it wasn’t long before I resorted to using fingers. But the great thing about it? Your guests can’t see what you’re getting up to so it’s fine right? There’s a lot to be said about your senses being heightened with the loss of another.

You may not be able to see a jot including the food you’re putting in your mouth. But you can’t half smell and taste it. Oh, and feel it in my case! We didn’t need a topic of conversation across the dinner table; we were too busy trying to guess what we were eating. I opted for the surprise menu, while my two guests went for meat. None of us were disappointed; there were some very intriguing flavours and textures going on making us all the more curious about the dishes right in front of our eyes.

We couldn’t have asked for a more attentive waitress either, Nadine was always right there if we needed her, we just couldn’t see it. It’s like she sensed when we needed something. And the toilet trip was interesting; more like a mini Conga through the restaurant. I’m pleased to confirm there are lights in the lavatories; that’d probably be too much.

The evening went incredibly quick and I can honestly say it was one of the most bizarre and memorable experiences full of surprises. It seemed to take even longer to adjust to the light once back in the bar area where we were shown pictures and descriptions of the delicious food we had eaten in the pitch black.

More surprises, especially as I didn’t get a single one of my dishes correct, and no it didn’t all taste like chicken. Having heard so much about Dans le Noir, it’s definitely something I needed to experience for myself as it’s so hard to explain the experience, which is very personal, to others. So if you’re like surprises then you’re in for a real treat.

And don’t worry, the bill isn’t in the dark!


How to find it:
Dans le Noir, 30-31 Clerkenwell Green, London,

What it costs:
* Surprise menu: Two courses for £46
* Surprise menu: Three courses for £54
* Degustation package: Three-course meal, two glasses of wine, surprise cocktail, water, tea or coffee for £72 

Book at: