Dining in Darkness…

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There are fine dining restaurants, then there’s Alchemy, a dining concept unlike anything I’ve yet encountered.  Picture this…you arrive in the foyer you see here, an old fashioned apothecary with shelves adorned with glass jars and enter through the somewhat concealed door on the left.  You are greeted by the manager, Jackie Chan (no, not THE Jackie Chan obviously – not even correct gender) , and are led into a comfortable lounge area reminiscent of an old-fashioned parlor.

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You are given menus offering 3, 4, or 5 courses with optional wine pairing.  I highly suggest the ‘mystery’ cocktail for $90HK…I forgot to ask what it was but I know it was good.  We opted for the 5-course and must have wine pairing and were led into what I can only describe as ‘sensory perception overload’ dining.  Yes, as the title of this article suggests, Alchemy is a restaurant where you are invited to dine in complete darkness while being served by ‘visually impaired’ (read – blind) servers.  You are not told what you are eating until the post-meal briefing (yes, they ask about allergies/food requirements so don’t be concerned you’re pissing off your deity or harming tasty…ahem…poor defenseless animals)…

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What I’m not going to do here is describe the meal at all.  Suffice it to say Chef Pascal Breant made his bones in the Michelin Star world of French fine dining so that should offer some hint as to the flavor palate you can expect.  I will say each course was brilliantly executed – mixes of familiar tastes/textures with the occasional ‘what the hell was that?’ moment.  The food was portioned perfectly and all of it was relatively easy to eat.  If your experience is similar to mine, I’d recommend thoroughly washing your hands before dinner as you’ll end up touching pretty much everything on your plate despite  having a knife and fork.  The service was absolutely exemplary, on par with that of any fine dining establishment.  Our server, Michael, was nothing short of superb.  I can only imagine being visually impaired on a daily basis.  I sincerely compliment his service methods, as a former fine dining server myself.

At this point I’m just going to say, don’t ask questions.  Go prepared for something entirely new, something incredibly exciting, and something just a little bit scary.  While we were waiting to be seated a couple returned from the darkness – the woman said it was ‘too dark’ – I was thinking to myself ‘no shit, that’s the point’ but once I was immersed, I could see somewhat of her point.  It is truly DARK.  The only visible light I was able to see came from a small infrared camera mounted near the ceiling and a tiny sliver of light near the ceiling leading to what I imagine to be the kitchen.  Beyond that, one must rely completely on the non-visual cues to enjoy the meal.

I always say you can’t put a price on good food…it isn’t the least expensive place on earth, but very reasonably priced for the quality of the ingredients, the service, and the outright thrill of attempting to guess at all the dishes & wines.  I look forward to returning – even if I don’t venture into the darkness again, the bar/lounge/restaurant on the main floor had a menu to die for.  Huge bar selection, particularly for the rare and obscure.  Just go already…

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OPEN MONDAY TO SATURDAY
7PM TO 11PM

LG/F, 16 Arbuthnot Road
Central – Hong Kong
+852 6821 2801

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