I’d heard of dark dining before. Some Maltese friends of mine who are living in Dubai have told me about their dinner experience at Noire in Fairmont Hotel—they loved it. But I’d never given it much thought till I got the opportunity to blind eat here in Ljubljana.
This would be my second unusual culinary adventure in Slovenia, after my Velenje Underground experience where I dined in a mine some 160 metres below the earth’s surface.
All sorts of questions started popping into my head at the thought of it. How dark WILL it be? How will I target the food without repeatedly poking my plate in vain? Will I love dining in the dark? Will I not? The only way to find out was to try it out. So I went ahead and made a booking for myself and my dinner companion.
Read a more personal and detailed account of my dark dining experience here.
Dark Dining at Hotel Slon
Ljubljana’s Dinner in the Dark takes place in one of the city’s most famous and elegant hotels, the Best Western Hotel Slon on Slovenska cesta. So you can expect nothing other than exquisite food, as the dinner-in-the-dark food dishes are prepared in-house by Hotel Slon’s chefs.
Read about Ljubljana’s most popular restaurants.
I was really pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food. Our portions were generous and the dishes made up a proper meal, rather than the cubes of meat that are known to be served at other similar gastro experiences. To top it all, Hotel Slon’s signature dessert is served at the end (more about this intriguing dessert here).
Two attentive waiters guide you through the dark via their night-vision goggles so you’re not trampling around the place aimlessly. Since the restaurant is pitch dark, there’s no need for diners to be blindfolded. You’re led to your seat, and once you’re seated the waiters explain where your cutlery, glasses, and water dispensing jug are.
You also have a container filled with water in which you can wash your hands should you decide to make more use of them rather than your cutlery while eating. You can feel around for your cutlery and use it. But this is actually one of the joys of eating in the dark: you have the liberty to feel your food with your hands, engage with it, and not be ashamed. Here, you can really get intimate with your food!
Unusual Culinary Experience (Fun in the Dark)
This unusual culinary experience lasts two hours and includes four courses. Before the dinner, you get to choose from either a meat or vegetarian menu. The food is traditional Slovene with a modern twist, so every dish came to me as a delightful surprise with lots of interesting combinations of flavours and textures.
We had everything from a tasty amuse-bouche combining basil, tomato, and buffalo mozzarella to braised veal cheeks served with popped buckwheat kernels. I’d had popped buckwheat with goat cheese mousse and buckwheat pancake at the Slovenian Cheese Festival last October. It adds such a great crunch to a dish, and in this case, contrasted so nicely with the braised meat.
This experience is not just about the food. Diners must undertake a few challenges in the form of guessing games. And if you want your digestive, you’ll need to look for it. But the probability of finding it is very high thanks to the waiters’ help. So you needn’t panic. It really is fun in the dark.
I now invite you to read my more personal dark dining story here. Enjoy the ride!