My first trip in quite a while (and by quite a while I probably mean more like a month or so) was to London to visit Hot Blonde Cousin. Over the past two years, I have been to London several times, always finding new adventures and experiences to partake in. After a morning of work, I hightailed it over to Gare du Nord where I would cruise through the Chunnel via Eurostar. As most of us are aware, there has been a mass problem with refugees crossing borders into Europe. There have been issues with people actually attempting to walk through the Chunnel, a thoroughly risky and dangerous mission. As a result, both to and from London, my train was delayed due to potential sightings of people near the tracks.
Once I arrived in King's Cross (technically St-Pancras, but I will always envision myself gliding into Platform 9 and 3/4) I jetted off to Oxford Street for some shopping at my favorite store in the history of the world, Primark (though technically I prefer Penney's in Ireland because I prefer Ireland and the Euro). Walking down Oxford Street can be mainly horrifying, especially when the destination is a discount store overflowing with tourists, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. Hot Blonde Cousin met me there after she finished work and we spent an hour or two shopping before we went back to her apartment to primp for the evening.
Our plan was to go to Dans Le Noir? An incredibly unique restaurant that I was first introduced to via the British romantic comedy "About Time." I admittedly hoped I would be sat next to an adorable Englishman who could time travel and henceforth fall in love with me. Not this time. Before we left the apartment, however, Cousin presented me with the gift of a frozen champagne popsicle from Fortnum and Mason... One word: Yummmmz. And from there we headed off to our fancy dinner spot!
When we arrived at the restaurant, I already knew that we would be eating dinner in complete darkness and that we would not be told what we were eating until after the meal. The host greeted us and we were asked to stow our belongings in a locker in the lobby, as we were not allowed to bring in any cell phones, bags or coats. Once we had settled our stuff, we went upstairs to a bar area where we could choose one of 4 possible menus for our dinner: Meat, Vegetarian, Seafood, or Unusual. Cousin had been to the restaurant before so I encouraged her (yes, I am a bad influence) to try the unusual menu, while I chose the meat option. During this time, a group of incredibly rowdy patrons also arrived in the bar. And when I say rowdy, I mean more like loud and obnoxious and falling on each other to the point of disrespectful. A young couple seated near us was equally perturbed and the staff had to speak to the group more than once about their antics. We crossed our fingers that we wouldn't be seated near this circus act.
At long last, we were escorted to the dining room. Before entering, we were greeted at the door by our server, a blind gentleman whose shoulder I was instructed to hold onto as a guide. Now, Cousin had warned me that the restaurant was literally pitch black, but there is really no way of truly wrapping your brain around the concept until you experience it. When they say dark, they mean DARK. Not an ounce of light escaped through any crack in the walls, no candles, no emergency exits. I assume there must be some sort of security system in place for safety reasons, but it certainly goes quite unnoticed.
The tables are communal, so we were seated next to the couple we had seen upstairs. They turned out to be an American guy and a British lady, so we had some lovely conversation with them throughout the night while we all learned how to maneuvre the table and experience. We were going to be having three courses, accompanied by beverages. Cousin and I started with a cocktail and our appetizer. We soon learned that trying to manage a knife and fork in darkness was no mean feat. Our guide had already warned us that most people end up eating with their hands by the end of the night because there is no way of knowing where things are without feeling around. During the main course, it took us about ten minutes to realize that there were three sections on our plate, not just one. Thank goodness we didn't miss out on all the food! We were also treated to the vocal stylings of the drunken partiers we had met upstairs. Within about ten minutes of their arrival in the dining room and several requests to tone it down, they were finally escorted back out into the lobby. This is not the environment for people who can't hold their liquor.
After dessert, we were told that hot beverages were served back in the illuminated lounge for safety reasons. It took me about ten minutes for my eyes to readjust after almost three hours of sitting in the pitch black. And while seated with our hot tea, the host came back to have us guess what good we had and then reveal the menu. I found out that my appetizer had been zebra, the most exotic of the dishes I tried, while Cousin discovered that she had also tasted ostrich and kangaroo. In the end, it was a thoroughly satisfying experience. The food was good, the service spectacular, and it really is something you can never imagine until you try. We had a lovely first night to my holiday weekend and I was excited for the adventures still in store.