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I can taste something you can’t see – and neither can I. We got to know our senses anew at a dinner in the dark Berlin.
“Will you pass me the bread basket?” – “I’d love to.” – “Oops, uh, what’s this greasy thing on my fingers???” – “The dip!!! You reached into the dip!”
Eating three courses of a meal in complete darkness is not so easy. Fortunately, no one can see whether you are following the rules of etiquette. Or as our waiter told us right at the beginning: “Everything is permitted in the dark.
So the three of us ventured to Noctivagus, a dinner in the dark Berlin.
Note on transparency: as experience testers for Abenteuer Freundschaft, we received a discount. This experience report reflects our own independent opinion.
From the outside, Noctivagus is inconspicuous: in one of Berlin’s typical backyards in Prenzlauer Berg, you enter a small restaurant at ground level that seems quite normal at first glance. No wonder: we are only in the waiting area here – the actual dinner in the dark Berlin is one floor further down.
We are immediately greeted and welcomed by a friendly member of staff. Since you always have to book in advance at Noctivagus, she already knows who we are and shows us the way.
In the light we get the menu and now, while enjoying a first drink, we have the choice between 3 menus with 4 courses each: a gourmet menu with meat, a vegetarian menu and a surprise menu where you don’t know what you’ll get but can exclude certain ingredients.
So if you have allergies or don’t want to eat certain dishes for other reasons, you can simply indicate that and still be surprised at the dinner in the dark. Paul and I choose this option because we want to know if we can taste what we are eating. Anika chooses the gourmet menu because it just sounds so extremely tempting.
Still in the bright waiting area, we are served the first course, a delicious amuse-gueule. Then we descend the stairs. Here, in the anteroom, you can practise identifying dishes with just your sense of touch, using small boxes with different contents. But then you are led into a light lock. The adventure in the pitch dark begins…
In the light lock, Jörg welcomes us. He is our waiter for the evening and also our guide through the darkness. Like all waiters at Noctivagus, he is blind. Anika is to put her hand on his shoulder, Paul his hand on hers, then I follow.
Jörg actually walks at a normal walking pace, but I feel like I’m in a hurry because I can’t see a thing and somehow instinctively fear tripping over something or bumping into something. But that doesn’t happen – Jörg leads us confidently to our table and helps us find our seats.
As we sit and chat over another drink, the special atmosphere that characterises a dinner in the dark Berlin slowly spreads. After all, when are you really in absolute darkness? It’s fascinating how clearly you suddenly hear and how you perceive a room of which you can’t see the smallest millimetre.
If we need anything, we should just call for Jörg, he would hear us. But there he comes and serves the starter. The first challenge! Because eating in the dark with a fork and knife really proves to be much more difficult than we thought.
Fortunately, no one sees us scanning the plate with our fingers to see where the food is and whether the plate is already empty. And while passing the bread basket around, it sometimes happens that you accidentally touch the dip.
But that’s what makes eating here at the dinner in the dark a special experience! And of course the tasting: what kind of meat is that in the starter… beef? Lamb? We find out afterwards that it was rabbit. And that fruity thing? Is there mango in it or are the vegetables just so wonderfully sweetly spiced?
It’s really amazing how the sense of taste can be misled when there is no visual confirmation. At the main course, Paul and I puzzle over the side vegetable: “Not celery, right?” – “No not celery, maybe salsify…?” – “Hmmm, more like this… crunchier.” – “Kohlrabi! I’ve got it: kohlrabi!”
We agree and are sure: it’s kohlrabi. Later the realisation: it was celery! 😀
For all 3 of us it was the first time eating in a dark restaurant and we were all fascinated by the experience.
Spending 2 hours in the pitch dark while awake is an interesting experience in itself. You can’t help but wonder what it’s like as a blind person to have to permanently do without your sense of sight.
It’s also amazing how quickly you get used to it, and I imagine I’ve made some progress in handling cutlery in the dark from the starter to dessert… When we were led back into the brightness at the end, the light literally dazzled me, although it was a very soft almost dim light.
The food was consistently good and tasty, but one should not expect the very big haute cuisine. The meat was tasty, but a bit firm in places. Fortunately, it was already cut into bite-sized pieces.
In general, you should leave your finest evening clothes at home when you go to a dinner in the dark, as the unfamiliar food in the dark can cause stains on your clothes.
Personally, I would recommend all people who like to experiment to choose the surprise menu, because it was great fun for me to puzzle over what exactly I was eating.
The service was impeccable and all the staff very friendly. We also think that being served by blind waiters is a good example of the successful integration of physically disadvantaged people into working life.
An extraordinary dinner where you get to know your senses, especially your sense of taste, in a completely new way. A visit to the Noctivagus dark dinner is very suitable as a surprise for a special occasion such as New Year’s Eve or as a gift in the form of a voucher
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