samster's adventures

An adventurous girl cooks, eats and explores in Europe.

Berlin Highlights: Nocti Vagus- Dine in the Dark Experience

Nocti Vagus

We heard about the dine in the dark experience being a thing to try when in Berlin, but discovered this pretty late before heading over. We did not have a chance to make reservations before going- nor were we totally sure we were ready for this. I finally decided I wouldn’t want to miss the opportunity and so one of the first questions we had for our concierge was about making reservations somewhere that did this. Unsicht Bar is the one we had heard of and read about, but they were completely booked for the weekend. The concierge mentioned another restaurant that did the same type of dining experience, and they were able to take us that night- Nocti Vagus. I could not imagine what we would be getting into. We had lots of questions in mind, so luckily we were just a few hours away from our booking.

We walked up to the restaurant, surprised to see big glass windows revealing tables with lights all around. I didn’t think I would see the tables when we entered. We walked in with a group who seemed to be thinking the same thing. We were greeted and asked to check our coats, use the restrooms and sit down upstairs where they would explain what would be happening. We were given menus, with either a meat, vegetarian or surprise menu. I of course had to go with the surprise. We ordered our food and the drinks we wanted with our meal as well. As we sat and enjoyed our final sights, they brought out a starter of potato soup. Soon after we finished, we headed downstairs. Before entering, we were told not to put anything on the floor, not to get up on our own and to call out our server’s name were we to need anything else or need to get up.

We entered a dark room and were then closed in. Once the door to the lit area was closed and a knock on each side of the door confirmed both ends were ready to open, they handed us off to our server. She took my hand, put Marcus’s hand on my shoulder and guided us to our table. She placed my hands on my chair, and placed Marcus at a chair next to me. After she confirmed we were seated ok at the table (adjusting me since I was too  close to an edge), she was off to guide in more people and get our drinks and food.

Our drinks arrived first. I took it rather hard when my wine came in two parts- glass and carafe. I wish I could say my first thought was not to admit defeat and drink from the carafe, but luckily I decided to try it out. It was white anyway- very low risk. Pouring was actually easier than I thought. I just had to check that they were touching and be careful of my angling. I could not tell how much I’d poured however, and out of fear of overflowing (which wasn’t an option really, as I’d only ordered a 1/4 liter which is a large glass, but still only a glass) I’d stopped pouring after about three small sips made it into the glass. I was much braver the next refill, partly because I realized pouring small amounts meant pouring more frequently.

Starters followed shortly, along with a basket of bread and dip. I wish I could say I found the dip by grabbing the edge of it, but my garlic-and-herb-butter-dip covered hand that thankfully no one could see would tell a different story. (I tried to feel for edges, but I somehow started already passed it). I didn’t have much more luck with my appetizer. It was good. I know there was a salad that I found first, some amazing cherry tomatoes, a thick sauce/puree, and finally at the end of it all I found a large piece of shrimp I’d entirely avoided. Marcus knew his dish was scallops, but was excited to discover the side salad as well. Knowing what he was eating was only a slight advantage, as he still had to discover where on the plate food was. (Some restaurants doing this say they explain what is on your plate and where using a clock analogy. This would be helpful).

The main was not much easier. It was a lemon and herb fish, with mixed vegetables and rice. It was delicious, but so strange not knowing what bite would be what. I think if I was more skilled, I would have been able to keep the food all in its own area, but that will take some work. I’m still not quite sure what my dessert was. It was definitely some part lemon mousse, some part chocolate-raspberry fudge, and a wafer and cream. It was very delicious though!

At this point, with me still hoping to see anything, they began the show portion of the evening. We didn’t realize we were also signing up for a show when we booked, and did not know what type of show it would be. Their brochure mentioned music, comedy and some others, but we didn’t check their schedule as we thought you booked for dinner and shows separately. But they mentioned it on the way in and now the music began. I enjoyed listening to the interesting music they played. It felt very loud. I’ve noticed before when at live music concerts that closing your eyes makes the music seem louder and makes it easier to pick out the multiple instruments. It was no different this time. Unfortunately, the music changed. What seemed like the German version of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” began to play and led into a story- in German of course. We got the general idea though. Someone was home alone, they were barely able to fall asleep from creepy sounds and thoughts, and just as they’d started dozing a knocking on the door woke them up. We realized we’d gotten ourselves into scary story night. (We still hadn’t fully understood what we’d gotten ourselves into). The story paused soon after this and there were just scary noises. Chains, banging drums, symbols- LOUD symbols, evil cackling laughs. Then the servers came out with glowing hands and glowing face masks that seemed to distort with the movement. It was weird to see anything at this point since it had been hours since I’d last seen even an outline. I realized here that I’d been forgetting if my eyes were open or closed.

This continued and the servers added touch in as a sense. They would grab your shoulder, leg, touch the top of your head with a warm cloth. It wasn’t scary at all to me though- at this point I could feel their presence as they approached me so I knew a touch would be coming. This segment went on far too long in my opinion. It was at least 30 minutes of this running around the room with strange noises. When it finally ended, the creepy voice came back on to finish the story before going into an upbeat, very happy German song that all clapped along to. I imagine something to the extent of “it was just a dream” had happened, but who knows.

At this point we were ready to leave, as were the other two people at our table. Our server positioned us all: me in the front, Marcus with his hand on my shoulder, and the other couple across at our table with their hands on his shoulder. She took my hand and guided us all out. We went from the dining room to the entry room and it was so painfully bright when the lights went on in there. It was nice being able to see again though.

All together, it was a good experience. Marcus and I talked probably more than usual. And you really had to read each other as you couldn’t watch their expressions. It was a good experience to see how many little things I take for granted when eating. As much as it may give a taste of what it is like to eat without sight, it allows for cheating as no one else is able to see. You could definitely use your hands to pick up larger vegetables here, or spill all over the table without anyone else noticing. That would not be an option for someone who is blind as everyone else sees even though they don’t. I enjoyed the experience, and would have probably enjoyed it even more had we caught a music show night, but I don’t think it is something I’d rush off to do again soon.

Has anyone else done a dine in the dark experience? What did you think? What did the restaurant you went to do differently? I’d love to hear any stories or thoughts!

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4 comments on “Berlin Highlights: Nocti Vagus- Dine in the Dark Experience

  1. Red Hen
    April 7, 2013

    Never heard of it. And, though I love to try new things, I think I`ll skip on that one. I hate horror stories and I like to see my food! You were very brave!

  2. Pingback: Easter Weekend in Berlin | samster's adventures

  3. The Wandering Gourmand
    April 7, 2013

    I’ve always wanted to try this. Thanks for posting!

  4. Hi Sam and Marcus, thank you so much for your great article! Next time I recommend to come to the Music-Dinner “Best of Film Music” or “Ein Kessel Dunkles” which is also in English 🙂 Here is our program in English: http://www.noctivagus.de/Dunkelrestaurant-Programm-Aktuell-English.php
    And here you get more information: http://noctivagus.com/dunkelrestaurant/english/
    All the best, Maja (NOCTI VAGUS)

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