I remember reading about this unique dining experience in Dubai a couple of years ago and thinking to myself - it sounds really adventurous! For someone who loves to experiment in general and more specifically with her taste buds, Noire Dining in the Dark sounded to me like the perfect way to not only try a unique epicurean concept but also put my discerning palate to a real test! This unique dining experience in Dubai is meant for those who're not only looking to indulge in some world-class international food in an exceptional destination but are also inclined to explore the unconventional and novel.
The purpose-built restaurant offers, as the name suggests, the exclusive opportunity for guests to dine in pitch darkness, while the staff wearing night-vision goggles serves them a three-course meal with paired beverages. The most exciting part is that you're completely unaware of the food you're being served until the end, when the chef asks you to guess and eventually unveils the dishes, with an explanation of the fine ingredients that were used. The popular belief is that when one sense (that of the sight) of our body is restricted, the others (here, that of taste and smell) are enhanced, allowing one to savour the flavours even more with the heightened senses.
The experience lasts for about 1.5 hours.
Noire Dining in the Dark - How to get there
Located in Fairmont Dubai on Sheikh Zayed Road, Noire Dining in the Dark is very easy to get to. The Sheikh Zayed highway (E11) is in the heart of the city and is accessible by both metro and taxi. Uber and Careem are popular apps that'll provide comfortable and convenient rides to the hotel from anywhere in the city.
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There is only one session in a day and that's at 7.30 pm. The seating capacity is for about 40 people in a room and though you can walk-in and expect to find availability most of the time, it's probably more sensible to make a reservation in advance in order for the team to be best prepared with your dietary requirements and restrictions.
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The experience starts sharp at 7.30pm (if you happen to reach before time, you're likely to find the doors shut so don't even bother!) at the poolside lounge of Fairmont Dubai's 9th-floor open deck. The view from the deck is breathtaking, with Dubai's skyline standing proud and tall in the backdrop. Here, you're served with a welcome drink while you have the chance to meet your fellow-diners, chat with your drinks mixologist and try to guess the ingredients of your concoction.
You're then briefed about the do's and don'ts, which include not using any source of light such as mobile phones or flashlights once you're inside the dining room. During my visit, one annoying guest did happen to switch on his mobile phone, flooding the entire room with light for a few seconds, making me wonder why people are unable to follow instructions for the sake of having a great, uninterrupted experience. Once you've been briefed, the staff wearing night-vision goggles guides you to the room, which is unexpectedly really pitch black! I expected that my eyes would soon get used to the darkness and begin to figure out the silhouettes but throughout the 1 hour inside the room, this never happened!
Once you're seated, a staff member will talk you through the setting of your table, allowing you to slowly feel with your fingers, the placement of water, the glass for your beverage, the cutlery and the tissues. This is when you're served your first course!
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What I realised was that I found it very hard to be able to guess the dishes I was eating. The soft and delicately prepared meat could have as easily been chicken as it could have been salmon and that's when it became clear to me - much of our taste is highly dependent on what we see! My gustatory nerves were being put to the ultimate test and it seemed like I was failing.
I knew I was being served delightful culinary creations but I had no idea what they were. I couldn't wait to ask the chef at the end of the meal if I was anywhere close to being right with my guesses. The staff was kind enough to check in regularly to see if everything was fine on the table and if we were enjoying our experience. After every course, we were served a palate cleanser, the paired beverages were re-filled to our desires and the portions were reasonable.
Hearing people whisper about what they thought they were eating was quite entertaining, everyone was clearly intrigued. I was caught off-guard but laughed when the waiter unexpected dropped a warm towel on my arm, after cleaning up our table. What was even funnier was the loud squeal from the table next to ours, where the woman was clearly disgruntled about not being warned about the towel in advance. After we finished our meals, we were led back outside to the world of light, a welcome relief after a 'dark' yet exciting experience.
Once outside, the chef enlightened us to the dishes that were served and most people were pleasantly surprised at their inability to rightly guess what they had eaten. The food was delectable, the service was impeccable and the overall experience was amusing!
To end the night, we were served delicious chocolate cake by the pool and had the opportunity to try on the night vision goggles ourselves and visit our dining table in the darkroom, to see the mess we had created while eating! I was so happy to see we had left a clean table.
Read here about why you should experience the Palm Inner Circle Cruise.
Why you should go
This unique dining experience in Dubai is something worth trying out at least once for culinary enthusiasts. Noire- Dining in the Dark does not compromise with the quality of the food while trying to provide an intriguing and fun-filled gastronomical concept. Although the initial few minutes might feel a little disconcerting because you're completely blinded in the darkness, one tends to settle comfortably and begin to enjoy the peculiarity of the whole idea eventually. It is an adventurous epicurean journey worth indulging in, at a price of $100 per person, which might seem a little steep but we all know, anything that's unconventional and exclusive in Dubai is unlikely to come cheap.
Although I was invited by Noire- Dining in the Dark for this experience, the opinions expressed in the post are entirely my own and completely unbiased.