My husband Glen and I were lucky enough to receive an invitation to try a new restaurant in the heart of Melbourne's Chapel Street.
Dans le Noir has been open since January 2018 and is not your every day restaurant. Diners are treated to a mystery three or five course dinner served in complete darkness.
We arrived at Dans le Noir and were greeted by the wonderful maître who talked us though the experience and took our orders we had a choice of seasoned vegan, fisherman's cove or feed me chef.
After a short time waiting we were introduced to our waiter for the evening, Gift, who suffers from retinitis pigmentosa which has left him with severe vision loss. It was time to enter the room. With one hand on the shoulder of the person in front of you, we walked in cautiously and very slowly.
As a parent of a child with vision loss, the first few moments of sitting at the table were quite overwhelming. Will this be all my son can see? How is it possible to function in such a dark world? The emotion of being sat in the complete darkness with no idea of who was next to you, where you where or even what colour the table cloth was made us feel quite alone. I held out and grabbed my husband's hand to give myself some sense of security.
The first challenge we were set was to pour our own water, it was quite bizarre to do such an everyday task without any vision.
Something that seems so simple suddenly felt so difficult. Entree arrived and I had started to get the hang of this experience. A delicious meal was placed in front of us, though I had no idea what exactly I was eating, I enjoyed every mouthful. I took to the challenge of eating with a knife and fork with ease. My husband and many others at the table chose the ‘hands on approach' to eating.
By the time the main meal had made it to our table, everyone at our table were laughing, talking and enjoying each other's company. Our waiter Gift seemed to be quite the showman and more than happy to guide us though the whole experience.
Being in the darkness for so long had become a surreal dream in a way, our eyes hadn't adjusted as there was literally nothing to adjust to but having nothing there had allowed a certain kind of calm to come over me.
The dinner was finished off with a desert; this course more than any other really confused all the diners at our table, everyone seemed to have a shot of trying to guess what all the different elements could be. It took me back quite a few times that I was having such a great time sharing with all of these people but I really had no clue what they looked like.
After the dinner, Gift took us back through the restaurant, out through the thick black curtains and back into the light. The first few moments were very overwhelming. I felt that great sense of calm I had in the restaurant slowly slipping away. I hadn't expected to enjoy the experience in the way that I did. I had thought it would be fun and a little bit of an adventure but I hadn't for one second thought that I would feel at peace.
The experience of dining in the dark at Dans le Noir was truly amazing. Every moment was enjoyable and fun all the while giving me a much clearer picture of what people who are blind or have low vision go through every day. Thank you to Vision Australia for giving Glen and me this truly eye opening experience.
Side note, our son with vision loss is now allowed to eat with his hands.
To book your experience at Dans le Noir? Melbourne, check out their website.