Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 19 October 2019

Just how scary is Noire Dubai's Halloween dine-in-the-dark experience? We put it to the test

Spoiler alert: it's not for the faint-hearted

The 'haunted' dining experience at Noire in Fairmont Dubai runs throughout October until Halloween. Courtesy Fairmont Dubai
The 'haunted' dining experience at Noire in Fairmont Dubai runs throughout October until Halloween. Courtesy Fairmont Dubai

Let’s get one thing clear right off the bat: Noire’s haunted dine-in-the-dark experience is not for everyone. If you scare easy, can’t deal with strobe lights or feel claustrophobic in the pitch-black, then it’s not for you. But, if you actually enjoy a fright fest, love horror movies and / or are feeling brave, then this month’s 90-minute Halloween-themed ­culinary event is definitely worth trying out.

The evening comes with a backstory. It’s themed around a tale about a haunted hospital for the visually impaired that once sat on the ­Fairmont Dubai’s grounds, where Noire is located. “According to local legend, patients started disappearing ­mysteriously at the hospital some 55 years ago, eventually forcing its closure,” stated the official announcement for the event.

“Among them, a young dark-haired woman, dressed in white, who can every now and then be seen wandering around the floors of the hotel …”

Without giving too much away, the night’s shenanigans all start from the moment you step into the elevator. The voice of a young girl informs you that, basically, there’s no turning back and you’re making a very grave error by wandering into her lair. Obviously you have no choice except to go along with it by that point, but it’s all good fun.

It’s not long before you come face-to-face with the aforementioned young woman who walks around (or gets transported in a wheelchair) wearing an ­ankle-length white smock with her long dark hair obscuring her face. She’s creepy. Very creepy. If you’ve seen The Ring, you’ll get the picture.

Before you head in to the completely dark dining room, there’s a short period of time when you get to mingle with your fellow brave diners. Under dim lighting, you can all chat and sip on the welcome drinks that have been presented in blood bags, as you steel yourself for what’s to come. Soon enough, the “head nurse” introduces guests to the concept, then, one by one, you’re guided to your seats, as you hang on to his shoulders.

I don’t want to spoil it for you, so I won’t go into too much detail about the rest of the evening. Let’s just say my senses were heightened. All you can see in the dining room are the small dots of light emanating from the wait staff’s night vision goggles as they move about the room.

A waiter in his night-vision goggles at Noire. Courtesy Fairmont Dubai
A waiter in his night-vision goggles at Noire. Courtesy Fairmont Dubai

At least that way you know when someone is approaching your table, whether to serve or scare you. Other than that, you haven’t got a clue what’s about to happen and what anything around you looks like (you can have a feel, if you’re brave enough to extend your arms out into the ether). Every sound, smell and sensation becomes more important to you than it’s ever been before.

While I wait for everyone to be ­seated, and our first course to be served, I make a point of talking loudly to my partner. We chat about mundane things – what we’re doing this weekend, how our day was – to distract us from the surreal and scary situation we’ve put ourselves in. We’re nervous and apprehensive, but at the same time, it’s all pretty hilarious. If only we could get a video of it all later, we agree.

That’s the experience, but what about the food? The Noire kitchen staff change their menu every month, so you’re not supposed to know what’s on your plate. It’s worth mentioning they also cater to dietary ­requirements (so if you’re vegan or have an ­allergy, for example, just inform them ­beforehand). Let me tell you – dining in the dark is no easy feat. It’s actually a very confusing experience.

The chef has concocted a meal that sets out to confuse you from the start

You need to push your fork around in the hopes of discovering some kind of ­resistance, then scoop up what you can (I definitely put an empty utensil into my mouth numerous times). As for discerning the flavours – some people are good at this, I am not. I recognised them, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what they were. But, that’s the point – the chef has concocted a meal that sets out to confuse you from the start.

Once it’s all over, you’re led out the way you come in, with a couple of frights along the way, and you’re introduced to the “ch(i)ef surgeon”, or the head chef, who shows you what you’ve been munching on. There were surprised expressions across the board. It seems I wasn’t the only one who couldn’t quite grasp what the ingredients were.

Ultimately, it’s an experience that’s fun, hilarious, scary, weird and enjoyable all rolled into one. I haven’t been to the regular dine-in-the-dark experience, so I can’t compare it, but I must say the horror theme is done well. While I wouldn’t say it is food worthy of awards, it’s definitely a good night out to enjoy with friends and loved ones that’ll have you discussing it for days to come.

Until Thursday, October 31, Monday to Saturday, from 7.30pm, from Dh360 for food and soft drinks, 04 311 8316, dbifbconcierge@fairmont.com

Updated: October 14, 2019 05:04 PM

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