Would you have dinner in total darkness? When we first heard about this novelty in the heart of Ljubljana, we wondered if we would dare to do it. How would we know what we would be eating? How would we carry the food into our mouths? What if we wouldn’t feel comfortable? However, we decided to step out of our comfort zone and booked a table in the dark at the hotel Slon in Ljubljana. They promised us a unique culinary experience in total darkness with excellent Slovenian dishes prepared by a top chef with an interactive program coming along.
Dinner in the dark
A two-hour culinary experience in total darkness with Slovenian dishes prepared by a top chef was something unforgettable. With sharpened sense of taste, smell and type, we tasted our food in a whole new way. The price includes a surprise menu with four courses of traditional Slovenian cuisine prepared in a modern way. You can choose between meat and vegetarian menu. It is also taken care of those with allergies and dietary restrictions. Just note that staff must be notified at the booking or at the arrival about it and the chef will prepare a safe dinner for you. On the Dinner in the dark website we learned that besides the food and drink included in the price we will also be facing numerous challenges in the dark. That was it! Nothing else. The rest was a total surprise.
Restaurant in the dark now also in Ljubljana
Restaurants in the dark are already a familiar and popular experience around the world. After the first concept of this kind of experience in Amsterdam a challenge where guests use all the senses except sight has arisen. From there, more and more popular dinners in the dark have popped up elsewhere in the world. Dinner in a dark, experiential environment allows you to dive into a world of sensitivity that you may never have experienced before. Embark on a journey of taste, sounds and touch in total darkness. Upon arrival, guests are asked to leave all the light sources in the lockers so they can only feel and taste the menu served by highly trained waiters. In those occasions, the chefs use stronger flavors and unique combinations of textures to compensate the lack of vision.
Let the fun in the dark begin!
Many guests seem to worry about being uncomfortable in the dark. We also wondered how we would feel in total darkness. Before dinner and before entering into the darkness the staff comforted us by explaining their goal to create a pleasant and unforgettable adventure for the guests. They actually created a relaxed and calm atmosphere in which we could fully relaxed in less than ten minutes. Besides the waiters, there is also an animator present, whose voice guided us throughout the evening.
The less we see, the better we taste
Did you know that visually impaired people usually develop better other senses and replace vision with improved hearing, taste, touch and smell? In the case of deep blindness, the brain uses other information available and interacts more effectively with the environment. In order to bring the blind and visually impaired to the general public, there are quite a few restaurants around the world where we have to move around the area and try food in complete darkness. Such a restaurant, where it is possible to experience something so unusual for most people, is now also available in Ljubljana.
You know what is umami?
The sight or the perception of objects through the eyes is a complex process. It works by reflecting light against the eye. The transparent outer layer of the eye, the cornea, wraps the light passing through the pupil hole. The iris or colored part of the eye acts as a camera shutter that opens wider to receive more light. However, the information translated from the light through the optic nerve travels to the brain as an electrical impulse. A sense of taste in human development is vital, as it is used to taste the food we eat. The bitter or sour taste usually indicated that the plant was poisonous or rotten. Something salty or sweet should mean a nutrient-rich food. The sense of taste is usually divided into four flavors: salty, sweet, sour and bitter. But there is also a fifth taste, defined as umami which stands for delicious.
Spicy means pain
The taste is sensed by the taste buds. Adults have 2,000 to 4,000 taste buds, most of them on the tongue, but also in the back of the throat, in the nasal cavity and esophagus. For example, the smell of food strongly influences how the brain perceives the taste. The smell comes to the mouth through a process called olfactory referrals. That’s why when we have a cold and a stuffy nose we have trouble tasting food. Even the food texture we feel and touch contributes to the taste. Did you know that hot and spicy is not a taste but just a signal for pain?
To watch with a touch
When seated at the table some might be a little bit confused at first. Might be tapping and touching around the table, as they are curious what’s on it. People tried to replaced their vision with touching and listening carefully to everything around them. It’s interesting that you might feel the arrival of the waiter and his presence nearby without even seeing him. Our vision makes us miss many experiences and senses that we actually cannot even detect. It is only in the absence of vision that you realize how powerful other senses can be and how important the touch is, which we usually do not need to use, as we can see and look at objects and people around us. Dinner in the dark guests are also incredibly more in touch with each other, which is not what we usually do, but in a dark environment it’s the only instrument of orientation. The animator leads the participants around the table with his voice and tell them to pour water into their glasses. When the waiter brings the first course of the menu, you might start to smell the food at first to define the flavours and touching it with the cutlery in order to determine the texture. The participants are very connected at the table, sharing most of the feelings with each other and speculating about the food. When the second course arrives to the table some start to eat with the cutlery, but after a while most of them leave it behind and start to eat with hands. Nobody is watching! You will probably guess some flavors, others not. You won’t know what you were eating until after dinner, when at the exit you will finally get the menu. You will be very thrilled about what you will find out!
Thrilled with the dinner in the dark
Regardless the concerns and fears you might be facing before entering in the dark, you will be very excited about everything! You will feel a lot more close to each other, you will communicated in a different way than when would in a regular restaurant and after dinner you will also be able to saj that you survived it and be relieved they did not give you anything strange to eat. And most importantly, you will totally forget about your mobile phones!