In a sudden fit of bravery we decided to take our wonderful Client out for an adventurous dinner. She is based in the States so we rarely get to see each other face to face.
This will now seem like a non-sequitor...
So we took her to Dans le Noir in Farringdon for a fabulous night of dining in the dark. We are working on a project that is all about sensual experiences, so it made perfect sense to finish the day's hard work with a meal that would push all of our sensual boundaries.
Arriving at the restaurant we were greeted in the foyer by a collection of very engaging maitre d's. They made us put all of our kit in a locker so that no mobile phones or watches with illuminated faces could disturb the sheer blackness of the dining room.
I don't think any of us were ready for the attack on our senese that was to follow. After a quick cocktail to instil a bit of Dutch courage in all of us, we queued up behind a blind waitress/guide and were led into the pitch black room. Some squealed. Others were a bit more stoical. We found our table using our hands and all sat down around what we all thought was a round table, but turned out to be oblong!
We groped around the table looking for water glasses and bottles. The only way you can pour everyone's wine is to put your finger in the glass and keep pouring until your finger gets wet! Not very hygenic. But great fun.
We all spoke very loudly to begin with as we acclimatised to the dark. Towards the end of the meal our voices became more calm and we shouted a lot less! It's bizarre just how reliant we all are on our sense of sight.
I found it really hard to determine what I was eating and to be honest can't quite remember. Memory works very badly when you remove the sense of sight. My starter may have involved something resembling spring rolls filled with what I thought was minced chicken and somebody else thought was tuna - which turned out to be duck.
Likewise I got terribly confused by my main course which I still swear to the this day was lamb, but turned out to be a mixture of ostrich fillet on one side of the plate and venison on the other. But we all recognised the distinctive smell and flavour of the truffled risotto that acted as a division between the two meats.
Personally I loved the whole experience. There is something very liberating about being in the dark. It may have been the amount of wine I was drinking because I was thirsty and couldn't find my water glass... but I found myself saying things at a work dinner that I would never otherwise have said. I've never had so much fun chatting a joking around a (now clearly rectangular) table. Everything seems funnier in the dark.
Be careful about coming here if you know people are claustrophobic or are a bit strapped for cash as it isn't cheap. But remember you are coming here for an experience and not simply a meal. In many ways this is the idea of a restaurant pushed to the extreme. It's not about the food. It's about opening your mind and having an entertaining time. We learnt a lot about each other during the course of the meal and feel like we all bonded along the way.
Will any of us return? Unlikely. But not in a bad way. We've all been talking about the experience ever since and won't ever forget that crazy meal we all had in the dark! It's a great place to come if you want to break the ice.