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The Early Word on Dark Dining Sensation Dans Le Noir

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The Paris-based Dans Le Noir finally opened its doors in Times Square a few weeks ago after a series of false starts. The first dining in the dark restaurant to hit the streets of New York, Dans Le Noir is staffed by blind waiters, offers four "blind tasting" menus for diners to choose from blue (seafood), green (vegetarian), red (meat), and white (chef’s surprise)) as well as "surprise cocktails." So far the restaurant has received mixed reviews from early guests; some love the quirk factor while others feel overwhelmed by the darkness and underwhelmed by the food. Take a look at what people are saying about their experience of eating in a pitch-black room ahead.

The Great (Probably Shill) News: Here is what one reviewer on Menupages had to say: "I had an incredible experience at Dans le Noir last night and i definitely recommend the experience to others. Be prepared to eat in total darkness so feel free to use your fingers to taste the food, even though they give you utensils :). The waitstaff are all blind as well so it is very humbling as you can walk in thier shoes for a bit. The food was incredible and it was interesting to rely on your other senses to figure out what you're eating. My palate is not as sophisticated as i thought because when i found out what it was at the end of the night - i was wrong on almost every dish - ha! Maybe next time when i go back I'll get better :). I would warn people who are a little claustrophobic like me as it is little jarring at first and i had to do some breathing exercises to relax. But once i calmed down and took in the experience, it was smooth sailing. A+!" [Menupages]

The Good News: Amanda from the blog First Course is a fan: "The all blind waitstaff is superb and happily guides you to and from your seats (conga line style) and serve you your three-course meal. Choose from four different surprise menus, including, meat lovers, vegetarian, fish and seafood lovers, and chef's surprise. Prepare to get your hands dirty (literally) digging into this meal and trying to discover what exactly is in your mouth [insert dirty joke here]. The faint of heart need not venture to this hot spot, because you might end up with shark fin on your plate courtesy of chef's surprise. But seriously, coming from one of the pickiest eaters of all time (I don't even eat salad dressing), I thoroughly enjoyed my meal here and I don't think I stopped smiling the entire time. This experience was one of the craziest things I have ever done and I recommend that all of you try it out...even if you're scared." [First Course]

The Worth Going Once (but Only Once) News: Most of the comments on Yelp say it's not great, but worth the experience. This review just about sums things up: "Dans le noir is a once in a lifetime experience. As in once is more than enough. Its pretty much everything they promise it will be. You're dining in the dark. You're led to your table by a blind guide. Mine was very friendly - he also knocked my drink off the table. I guess it happens. Food is a choice between red (meat), blue (seafood), white (chefs choice) and a fourth option that noone at my table ordered. My food was pretty medicore - food was largely tasteless. I think the red were better received. The white came out missing the majority of the dessert. Guessing what we were eating all night, and then checking out the pictures at the end of the night to find out what we had really eaten definitely added some excitement to the whole affair. Bottom line is that there is no way this food is worth 60 a pop. Dining in darkness - well that just detracts from the experience IMHO. Having said that, it's unique and weird and maybe that's worth trying out. Once." [Yelp]

The You'll Look at Life Differently News: But one Yelper really enjoyed his dinner: "The misses and I ventured over to midtown west to experience dining in the dark. We had a couple of glasses of champagne at the bar to bring down the apprehension and stimulate the appetite for adventure. We then check our belongings in a locker, formed a line with our other guest that were seated at our table and waited for our guide Adam to take us on our tour. We zipped around a corner and were in complete darkness (Yes, I said 'Complete darkness'). At first it was a bit uncanny and intimidating, but our guide Adam spoke to us and made sure our group stayed together to our dining table. Once, we reached our table and I felt the top of my chair my heart slowed down and I was able to put things mentally in perspective. You get to learn a lot about yourself, spouses, friends, fellow diners and others in the room. All your other senses are heighten because with the lost of sight one has to compensate for the lost of sight. I will tell you the evening was wonderful. I fully recommended trying this experience sometime and you'll look at life differently appreciate your sense of sight even more. It would be great for a date, which would be truly blind or a night out with friends and lovers. So, let go and go to Dan les Noir?" [Yelp]

The Really Bad News: Another Yelper had a really negative experience and does NOT recommend going: "I read the previous reviews and lowered my expectations for food. We arrived right at our 7:45 arrival time for pre-dinner details: bathroom, locker, waivers, and menus. We then waited about 20 minutes to be seated at our tables. The best part of the night was walking into the darkness, it was all down hill from there. Bread and water came quite immediately. We each got a half cup of water and some cold bread. Eons later we were served appetizers which tasted like hor d'oeuvres you might purchase at Costco for your kids after school junk food. Starters were oily and fried and the worse part was that it was room temperature. For a long while no one was seated next to me on one side. After some time, a party was seated next to me. Then, they were served drinks, then water, then more drinks, then starters, then they got their main entrees and soon after we were served ours. Can you imagine? That MUST have been at least an hour staring into darkness and too loud to converse with the person who was seated across from me. We started at 8:20pm and got out at 10:50pm leaving right after dessert was served. Dinner was 2 1/2 hours. We waited a VERY long time for our entree....Very soon after the entree came the dessert. The main entree was also room temperature. There was fish that was so raw I sent it back and the kitchen told the waiter that if it was cooked anymore it would be burnt. I eat sahimi, carpacio, and all sorts of other foods seared and rare in the center. I could NOT eat this. The fish was too fishy (read: not fresh) to be something that could be eaten raw. The meat item on the plate was some sort of deep fried meat scraps and some refried beans. Dessert was also tepid scraps including pudding and fruit from a fruit cup out of a can. The food was not just merely subpar. It was awful....I wanted so badly to not give a poor rating and to find something redeeming. But there's nothing." [Yelp]

The Scary then Awesome News: A Foursquare tipster thought the experience was great once she settled in: "Front desk was a disaster. But our server Felicio was the coolest. He was wonderful. Super scary at first, panic attack worthy, and then awesome." [Foursquare]

The Noisy but Good News: And another tip from Foursquare: "The communal tables might feel cramped to some; it can get noisy since you can't see and your other senses are more active than usual. But definitely worth experiencing if you're open." [Foursquare]

— Claire Nugent
· All Coverage of Dans Le Noir [~ENY~]

Dans Le Noir

246 W 38th Street, New York, NY 10018

Dans Le Noir

246 West 38th Street New York, NY 10018

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