Dans Le Noir Auckland – Dining In The Dark Auckland

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Dans Le Noir Auckland – Dining In The Dark Auckland

A new culinary venture in Auckland invites diners to taste what life is like for blind people, with an eating experience that takes place in complete darkness.

Dans Le Noir launched in France in 2003 and has become hugely popular, attracting A-list celebrities and even members of the royal family to its landmark restaurants in Paris and London.

Guests are guided and served by blind waiters, reversing the traditional imbalance of power between those who see and those who cannot.


Pitch darkness is initially an unsettling experience.

Our eyes cast around in the black looking for light – shadows even, anything that could be used as a reference point to make sense of our surroundings.

There was nothing.

Instead, we were completely dependent on our blind waiters to show us to our seats, and explain the layout of the table.

We’d entered the room conga-style, each person placing their hand on the shoulder of the person in front to form a human train that slowly shuffled into the dark.

Without eyes, your hands take on much greater importance.

I felt around the edges of my plate (round), poked a finger into the food (squishy), and then explored further until I found the wine (important).

We decided the first course had to be fish.

We decided the second course also had to be fish.

Actually, it tasted exactly the same as the first course. Was the chef playing games with us?

Spirited debate ensued about the difference between the first and second courses, although this debate ultimately proved inconclusive.

Much later we discovered there had been a serving error and we had, in fact, been given the same dish twice. It was a good illustration of how difficult it is to identify food without using your eyes.

The third dish also tasted like fish – surprise! – however on further chewing we decided it had to be steak. I don’t think I’ve ever confused fish with steak before.

Public service announcement: it’s liberating to eat with your fingers, and it’s much easier than trying to blindly scoop food up with utensils.

Don’t worry; the person beside you is likely enjoying the same finger freedom.

The waiters remind people to go to the bathroom before entering for just this reason – clean hands are essential if you’re dining with your digits.

We chatted away to strangers as though they were old friends, freed from the shackles of having to make eye contact or worry about our physical appearance.

“I’m normally quite shy and wouldn’t talk this much,” one diner confided.

I kept reaching for my phone; a subconscious movement that repeated itself every few minutes like a junkie shaking for their fix.

Dans Le Noir staff had confiscated our phones for precisely this reason – no light allowed, at all.

Eating in the dark is a worthy experience for the intrepid diner. It’s definitely entertaining but is also thought-provoking in ways I hadn’t anticipated.

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