A room downstairs in the Dans le Noir restaurant on rue Quincampoix in Paris.

Blind feeding the blind

Dans le Noir has many rules: no mobile phones (they give off light), no smoking, no loud talking, no getting up without the help of a waiter, no gesticulating with your cutlery, no slapping your neighbor if he grabs your thigh—though they don’t exactly phrase it like that.

But as you are led into the dining room, physical contact is a must: you’ll be asked to put your hands on the shoulders of the person in front, so as not to trip and fall. The waiters here are blind, and you must trust that they know their way around, as you certainly won’t. And with your knife and fork; it’s easier to work out what’s on your plate with your fingers something ravioli-like, a few prawns, a cherry tomato and a bean sprout salad. Guinea fowl may be mistaken for chicken, with Spätzle that are not too difficult to spear with a fork; alternatively, a dessert of pineapple carpaccio with coconut and spice biscuit sorbet is not easy to keep on the spoon. This is a restaurant that is so dark that you can’t see—the point being that everything will taste that much more potent, your senses.

But this doesn’t necessarily work—you may find yourself too distracted by trying to decipher the voices around you, working out how to eat without spilling your food in your lap, that there’s not much room for culinary excellence. It doesn’t seem to affect its popularity, the room seats 58 and is full most nights.

Dans le Noir: 51, rue Quincampoix, 4th (01 42 77 98 04). M° Hôtel de Ville or Rambuteau. Open for three sittings: 12:30 pm, 8 pm and 10 pm daily.

—published in the Time Out Paris Visitors’ Guide, Summer 2005.