French dark dining restaurant chain Dans le Noir? recently announced its upcoming arrival in the Grand Duchy, with a new restaurant set to open at Novotel Luxembourg Kirchberg on Thursday 10 November 2022.
Chronicle.lu had the opportunity to speak with Emilie Vuillemin, Project Manager of Dans le Noir? Luxembourg, ahead of the restaurant’s opening next week.
Since its launch in Paris in 2004, Dans le Noir? has attracted more than two million visitors to its various restaurants around the world. Locations beyond the French capital (and other French cities) include London, Madrid, Brussels, New York, Melbourne and, very soon, Luxembourg.
Speaking to Chronicle.lu, Emilie Vuillemin presented what she described as “one of the most unusual culinary concepts in the world” in more detail: guests dine in total darkness and are served by blind or visually impaired waiters in what makes for a “sensory experience”. As Emilie explained, all of one’s other senses are intensified when sight is taken away and diners often “discover how difficult it is to identify food” in the dark. The Dans le Noir? concept is also designed as a “convivial experience” during which guests, often strangers (at first), sit together at large tables and bond over this unique dining experience. “Darkness makes prejudices disappear and even creates links and friendships”, noted Emilie. The fact that guests are served by blind or visually impaired waiters also makes this a very “human experience”, as the roles are reversed and diners experience firsthand what it is like to lose their sight (albeit temporarily).
Regarding the decision to expand to Luxembourg, Emilie noted that an existing Dans le Noir? team member is originally from the Grand Duchy and, after setting up the Brussels restaurant a couple of years ago, next set their sights on Luxembourg. “It was an opportunity”, Emilie elaborated. “We immediately saw it was a good idea”. She added that Luxembourg City was attractive as a small but very international city “with curious people from everywhere”. Having prospected various hotels in the Luxembourg capital, Dans le Noir? found an enthusiastic and suitable partner in Novotel Luxembourg Kirchberg. “It was love at first sight”, said Emilie. Rather than replacing the hotel’s existing restaurants, Dans le Noir? will be set up as a brand new permanent dining spot with its own special blackout equipment installed in two rooms. In a first instance, the experience will be available three evenings per week (Thursday to Saturday), although the frequency may increase in future depending on demand.
So far, Dans le Noir? has hired six guides for the Luxembourg experience, with Emilie serving as manager; all other staff are existing employees of the hotel. Indeed, Emilie acknowledged that Luxembourg had hosted isolated dark dining events in the past but remained confident that the Dans le Noir? concept is unique, not least because it involves recruiting blind or visually impaired waiters with the help of local non-profit organisations, thus also raising awareness. “There is not a real gap in the market but definitely a place for us”, she said, adding that with Dans le Noir?, it was about the whole experience, not just the food. The restaurant also offers team building experiences and tailor-made workshops as well as the possibility to rent out the entire restaurant for corporate events. According to Emilie, the interest is already there, with people in Luxembourg showing enthusiasm for the concept.
From 10 November, Dans le Noir? Luxembourg will be open to the public Thursdays to Saturdays from 19:30 at Novotel Luxembourg Kirchberg (6 Rue du Fort Niedergruenewald, 2226 Luxembourg). Guests will receive a surprise menu, prepared by chef Christophe Mannebach, comprising a starter, main course and dessert (with or without wine); prices start at €55. Bookings can be made online at https://luxembourg.danslenoir.com/.