I am not typically the type of person to get lost in the rigamarole of Valentines Day. It’s not that I am disenfranchised to the point where I think its a “fake holiday” (it is) created by the getting card companies (it was) and it’s meaning is purely financially (totally). It’s just that I feel love is an emotion best dished out 365 days a year in small gestures that may not seem like much at the time but when you sit with your significant other you reminisce with stories that usually start with “remember that one time…”
However, one thing I do get excited about is food. So it made perfect sense to book a table, unbeknownst to my girlfriend, at a local hotspot called “Alchemy”. The concept is simple, yet wildly intriguing. You eat in total darkness and it forces you to truly rely on your senses other than sight to taste and evaluate your meal. When I say “total darkness” I mean total darkness. With no phones, exit signs or candles to taint the ink-black room you are left feeling truly helpless. Luckily, a staff member guides you through curtains, around your table and towards your cutlery and you sit down as safely as you would have in a well lit room.
We had our reservations at an early 6:45, as sleep tends to be a high priority for us both and we walked through the unassuming entranceway and were seated in the lounge as we waited for Michael, our server, to prepare the table. In the lounge area, you can sit and talk, grab a drink or admire the charming interior with dark woods and an intricate inlaid ceiling. After a red wine and gin and tonic, Michael was ready and so were we. The hostess led us down a dark staircase and made us count with her as we descending the 14 steps into the shadows.
The darkness is very uncomfortable at first. There we were, having a conversation. Talking about things that are very important to us. Things that would typically illicit a string of facial gestures, eye movement, subtle body language and other various “tells” that we use in everyday life to dictate how others are feeling, yet we had none of that. I could only guess the physical response my partner was having across the table from me. Always being a fan of puns, this was truly a blind date.
Bad jokes aside, the food was delicious and according to the staff, the menu changes every week to keep people coming back for more. I never truly got used to the darkness during out 2 hour meal, which included a glass of champagne, appetizer, main and dessert. There were moments where I would close my eyes for a few minutes then open them, only to reveal more pitch black darkness. I tried my best to eat with the forks and spoons provided but quickly grew impatient and just dug in with my hands, covering them in whatever concoctions happened to be on my plate. I felt like I was reverting back to a toddler. I was well dressed, paid for the meal and set up the reservation yet, there I was with my fingers grubbily wrapped around a slice of duck meat and covered in the remnants of beetroot from the starter. It obviously didn’t matter though, no one could see, so I carried on unfazed.
After our dessert, we chatted for a bit more and then agreed that the exchange of words was best continued in some sort of well-lit room. We settled the bill and made our way back to our apartment to enjoy a bottle of cheap wine and watch HBO’s “The Jinx” which, like “Alchemy”, I highly recommend.
Now this is the time that could take the low road in comedy and post pictures of pure blackness and say something cute like “this was our main course” but I’ll spare you and just suggest that if you want a “dining in the dark experience” just don’t pay the electricity bill for a few months and you’ll have it. Or just google it. Less stressful and doesn’t affect your credit score.