It will be the very first ‘dining in the dark’ experience in Abu Dhabi…

It’s been said, that when you shut off one of the senses, the others are heightened, opening gateways to entirely new perceptual experiences.

And that’s a central part of the philosophy behind Pitch Black Dining, a new culinary adventure at Fresh Basil, Bab Al Qasr.

The five-star hotel’s director of food and beverage, Elias Saad is the creative mind behind this — Abu Dhabi’s first ‘dining in the dark experience’. And it is now open for bookings, with packages starting at just Dhs249, for limited seatings Monday to Friday.

In the dark

Although what’s served on the night can be tailored to accommodate ‘preferences and allergies’, in keeping with the in-the-dark theme, the luxe three-course menu conceived and created by executive chef Yvan Marclay and head chef Gayan Rupasinghe, will largely remain shrouded in mystery. This avoids curious diners forming any experience-altering preconceptions.

Part of the predinner ritual involves handing over all light emitting gadgetry. Items such as phones, smart watches and, in case any of you out there are still using cameras — those will be temporarily stored safely away too. We’re looking at you DSLR crew. This is to ensure the pitch black room, remains as advertised, and to enhance your own chewing pleasure.

How does it work?

The format for Pitch Black Dining unfolds over 60 to 90 minutes in three distinct experiential phases.


Before entering the umbral abyss, you’ll be treated to a short briefing by your hosts in the reception area, paired with a welcome drink and canapes.

Dining experience

The main event. After your orientation session, you’ll be lead into the complete darkness of the pitch black Fresh Basil restaurant. The staff are kitted out with high-tech night vision equipment allowing them to get you to your table without any incidence of stubbed toe theatrics.

What follows is a three-course meal designed to pluck at a variety of sensorial strings. The restaurant’s chefs have primed the flavour palette to lead you on a tour through heightened taste country, and if you do manage to miss your mouth, at least your date won’t be able to see. What happens in the dark, stays in the dark.

The reveal

Every magic trick, must have a third and final part – the reveal, where what was snatched from sight, is now returned. And it’s here where the chef will quiz you over what you thought you ate, and if you want the mystery to end there, will also let you in on the details for each of the three courses.

Fresh Basil, Bab Al Qasr, W Corniche Road, Mon to Fri 7.30pm to 10pm, prices from Dhs249 per person. Tel/WhatsApp: (00971) 56 992 2078, @babalqasrhotel

Images: Provided