We try the first ever Dine-in-the-Dark experience in Abu Dhabi that is all set to launch at the Bab Al Qasr Hotel and is driving diners crazy in anticipation.
The highly anticipated and the first of its kind Dine in the Dark experience is here in Abu Dhabi, and we were fortunate enough to be given a chance to try the concept last week at the Bab Al Qasr Hotel.
Now you might wonder what’s all this hype about, it’s just eating food without the lights on, but It’s so much more than just this, which we discovered to our utter surprise when we actually experienced it.
We take our senses for granted and even if just one is removed then all sorts of things happen like you will learn you just can’t tell what you are eating by the taste but actually need to see the food as well, so we do really eat with our eyes after all.
The experience is simply amazing, like a James Bond film with the high-tech night vision stuff and a gourmet fine dining meal rolled into one.
We arrive at around 7.45 PM Thursday night and as we head toward the venue, Fresh Basil, the lighting seems to get darker and darker, then we enter the corridor, and it’s lit with a series of candles setting the mood.
We enter the venue and are greeted by Elias Saad the F&B Director who is the brains behind this concept and is a luminary in the Abu Dhabi culinary circles. The venue is in two parts, the first is the briefing room where you are seated at a table and served canapés and drinks while the Chef explains the concept.
The canapés are excellent and the berry mocktail we had was absolutely delicious, all this is being done with the lights on, so we can see, taste and enjoy the food.
After the briefing, we put on our aprons with the assistance of the team so we don’t spill food on ourselves while eating, very thoughtful! We are given a lock box to deposit all our light emitting articles, so no phones in the dining area.
We are then told to line up behind one of the servers with our hands on each other’s shoulders making a sort of train as the waiter, who is equipped with night vision goggles, takes us to our table in the next room which is completely pitch dark.
There are just six tables, but you can’t tell a thing even after your eyes get accustomed to the dark, it’s a bit eery but great fun.
Three courses are served in complete darkness with specially paired drinks, a salad, a main and a dessert. The menu is secret, and you are to rely on your remaining senses to try to figure out what you are eating and enjoy the meal.
The team will ask you about any dietary restrictions or allergies you might have, and they will make sure you get the food you can eat, so be assured there will be no nasty surprises.
It was definitely an experience, from finding the cutlery to setting down your drink and then finally digging in, it’s something you really have to experience to appreciate. We can hear diners at other tables, but can’t see a thing.
All we could tell, without being able to see the food, was that we started with a seafood salad, the mains were beef and veg and the dessert was a chocolate brownie with strawberries, but nobody was able to go further than that.
Once the food is done you are escorted back to the reception area where the Chefs will unveil the dishes you ate and explain them to you after asking you to guess the ingredients.
Let’s talk about the food, the trio of canapés came on a bed of smoky seaweed, adding to the mystery and awakening your sense of smell. The drink is a refreshing berry punch that was absolutely divine.
There are four small bites, one a deep-fried mozzarella ball, a skewer with some veg and creamy goat cheeses, a crostini with tomato Salas and another cheese dish, the menu changes daily so expect something different when you dine here.
The mains are served in the dark, the salad was a seafood ceviche which had shrimp, scallops and octopus topped with caviar in a citrus marinade. The taste was an explosion of flavours we could not assimilate. We could tell it was seafood but not what exact creatures we were dining on, great fun.
The main was a stellar dish of slow cooked rib eye beef cooked to perfection on a bed of root vegetables, we absolutely loved the flavours and the tenderness of the beef has to be experienced.
The dessert was another revelation, it was a dark chocolate cake with strawberries, topped with a strawberry sorbet, raspberries and currents. The bitterness of the chocolate balanced the tartness of the strawberries, giving you a light and delicately flavoured dessert to end the meal.
It was definitely an experience that we will not forget soon, pure theatre with food to match. Each element of the evening flows so smoothly into the other, making you feel you are on a mysterious journey that forces you to use all your five senses to the max. You will take home a keen appreciation of what each of your senses actually does for you.
As mentioned, the food is excellent, and the service is definitely on a different level with personal attention of the Chef and his highly trained staff assisting you through your journey. A culinary masterpiece with an experience to match.
By far, this is the most unique and exciting thing to happen across the Abu Dhabi culinary scene in ages. Hats of to Elias and his team for a superb evening.
Pitch Black Dining at Fresh Basil, Bab Al Qasr hotel will be open to the public from 15th Sep. It’s a tailor made experience with pricing starting at AED 249 per person. It’s a 60 to 90 minute experience that will be taking place all through the week starting at 8.00 PM.