Dining in the dark makes your taste buds do the thinking

Unless you are a badger, you likely eat with the lights on. Not so at Noire. The new restaurant at Fairmont Dubai makes guests dine in the pitch black and only reveals what they’ve eaten afterwards. Why? Chef Lorraine Sinclair aims to show we enjoy food more when we can’t see it, while saving the hotel a few quid on Dewa bills.

Research suggests our appreciation of food depends so much on how a dish looks that we draw conclusions before we even lift the fork. By depriving us of our sight, Sinclair makes our taste buds work overtime to identify flavours. And she doesn’t make it easy.

We sink an aperitif in the bar with the lights on. Then we see waiters in night vision goggles and things get weird. We’re told to link up in a line and walk through a curtained partition into the darkness. A hand guides us to our seats and shows us where to find our crockery. We feel a side plate. And… what’s that? It’s a bread roll.

Starters are presented and we struggle to shovel in the mystery matter – think Edward Scissorhands eating peas. We taste something cold and something warm and crispy. Granita with battered prawns? The main course is beef stew-ish with a crunch. Someone knocks over a glass. Everyone applauds. The volume of chat reaches fever pitch. Unable to judge the distance between us, we all over-compensate and yell at each other. Dessert is smooth and fruity in one bite, crisp and poppy the next.

Before we know it we are being marched back to the real world. We squint in the light as the dishes we’ve eaten are revealed. What we thought were prawns were actually sweetbreads. That wasn’t granita, it was frozen panna cotta. We weren’t too far off with the mains, but were miles off target with dessert: seaweed-sealed mango purée with strawberry spaghetti and Space Dust.

Foodies will relish the chance to test their tasting skills at Noire, while everyone else will enjoy the novelty. Plus, Dhs27 from each dinner goes to blindness prevention charity Sightsavers. Just don’t wear your best pashmina – this dinner can get messy.

Spectrum On One, Fairmont Dubai
Tel: (04) 3118316. Metro: World Trade Centre.
Fri to Mon 7.30pm to 10pm.