From Our Editors
After a career spent cooking for celebrities including movie stars, royalty, and heads of state such as Vladimir Putin and George W. Bush, head chef Oliver Romain now curates a spot that’s uniquely immune to vanity. Guided by a staff of blind or visually impaired servers, diners at New York’s Dans le Noir embark on an unpredictable gastronomical journey in a dining room draped in absolute darkness. Though servers take careful note of guests’ food allergies and dietary requirements, they leave the rest up to the kitchen—until diners are handed a picture of the menu they just ate upon exiting, they won’t know for sure whether, for example, that was really crocodile resting on their mushroom fricassee. No matter what, however, they can rest assured that the fish is line-caught fish, the meats are free-range and grass-fed, and the vegetables are seasonal and organic.
What began in 1997 as a one-off event organized in Paris by film producer Michel Reilhac and the Paul Guinot Foundation for Blind People has blossomed into a multinational franchise of gourmet internationl restaurants that offer in-the-dark dining with a more communal feel than curling up inside a closed refrigerator. In addition to surrounding customers in a world of intense tastes and smells experienced as if for the first time, server Sam Davis says (in a video the team made to explain the concept), “Our job here is also to change the roles here: I become the sighted, you become the blind.” In line with the restaurant’s larger social mission, 10% of all profits are donated to charity.