Restaurants: Dans Le Noir?

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Cenare al buio, senza possibilità di vedere la sala, il cibo, i commensali, come se fossi cieco. Un’esperienza che insegna molto sul nostro modo di agire e pensare e ci aiuta a capire chi è non vedente. Il ristorante Dans Le Noir? non è una novità londinese, ma è sicuramente un’esperienza emozionante, da provare. BY LOUISE JOHNSON –  LANGUAGE LEVEL B1 (LOWER INTERMEDIATE)

Speaker: Rachel Roberts (Standard British accent)

Imagine going to a restaurant where you cannot see your surroundings (1), or the food and drink. The idea sounds strange because aesthetics are very important to us when we eat out. Attractive decor, candles, a smile from the waiter (2) – not to mention well-presented cuisine. They all make a difference.

An unusual restaurant in London called Dans Le Noir? (French for “in the dark”) offers customers a unique experience. Diners eat in total darkness. They are not allowed (3) to enter the restaurant with anything that could provide (4) light, such as a camera, cigarette lighter (5) or mobile phone. They sit at a communal table and chat with strangers as if they were in a canteen (6).
Diners are guided into the very dark restaurant by a blind (7) guide/waiter who then serves their food and looks after them (8) for the duration of the meal (9). If they want to leave their seat, they must call their waiter, who will escort them out of the dark room. It is only at the end of the evening, in the area of the restaurant with lights, that they discover what they have eaten, when they are shown photos of their meal.

The objective of the restaurant is to take people out of their comfort zone, and to make them rediscover their other senses, especially taste and smell (10). For a couple of hours, they also experience what it is like to be blind. All the waiters are visually impaired (11) or blind. They understand the challenges (12) of eating in the dark.

Roberto, a guide/waiter at the London restaurant, says: “A good 75 – probably 80 per cent – of information to your brain13 comes from your sight (14).”
Diners often find it a disorienting experience at first (15). It is perhaps not a good idea to eat at Dans Le Noir? in your new designer clothes! Diners frequently find that their taste buds (16) are inaccurate. Nine out of 10 people apparently do not know whether they are drinking red or white wine.

Manager Dominique Raclin says that customers often find it difficult to leave their modern technology at the door. Others find this absence of distraction a positive.
Some people have admitted to licking (17) the chocolate sauce from their plates! Others have met on the Internet and then had their first date (18) in the restaurant, before eventually (19) seeing their faces in the area outside.



Kate and William © Visit Britain

Dans Le Noir? is London’s only “blind” restaurant but there are similar restaurants in cities including Paris, Barcelona, Moscow and New York. The chain started in Paris in 2004. Milan has similar – and equally fascinating – events at the Istituto dei Ciechi.
One aspect of eating in the dark is that you do not know what your neighbours look like (1): are they young or old, rich or poor, fat or thin? They could even be famous. It is reported that Prince William and Kate Middleton have eaten at London’s Dans Le Noir?
Everyone is equal in the dark.

To experience Dans Le Noir? London:


1  surroundings: l’ambiente circostante
2  waiter: cameriere
3  they are not allowed: non è permesso loro
4  provide: fornire
5  cigarette lighter: accendino
6  canteen: mensa
7  blind: cieco
8  look after them: si prende cura di loro
9  meal: pasto
10 taste and smell: gusto e olfatto
11  visually impaired: ipovedenti
12  challenge: sfida
13  brain: cervello
14  sight: vista
15  at first: all’inizio
16  taste buds: papille gustative
17  licking: leccare
18  first date: primo appuntamento
19  eventually: alla fine

1  what your… like: che aspetto abbiano i tuoi vicini


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