It took us awhile to find the secret location of No Such Place, the venue for the evening’s entertainment. We’d just had a nice dinner at Polpo with some friends (order the meatballs), and now it was time to try out Pitch Black, a new ‘drinking in the dark’ concept recently relocated from the East End.
The venue is hidden behind an unmarked door in Covent Garden, through winding corridors and down a steep flight of steps. We were greeted with a glass of chilled prosecco, which I sipped while eyeing the crowd of mostly couples for potential deviants, particularly those whose behaviour over the next 90 minutes might result in a trip to the dry cleaners. Everyone seemed normal enough, but I was taking no chances and kept my bag as far from other people as possible. There’s nothing worse than unexplained bodily fluids, after all. (Either way, there is a night vision camera, so Londoners familiar with the other kind of dark room may want to watch their step…)
Prosecco in hand, we were led into the main room by our charming host Dom, who got us to ‘charge’ our glow-in-the-dark coasters using our phone torches. These dim green rings worked well – they didn’t diminish the feeling of darkness too much, but they helped us – and Dom, poor bastard – find our drinks. Then it was phones down as the lights went out, and it was time for the first cocktail.
I won’t go into too much detail on the drinks themselves because that would ruin the fun, but the first two were well-made twists on classic concoctions. It’s interesting how the darkness changes your perception of flavour, even though you can rarely tell the ingredients of a drink by sight. For instance, the nip of absinthe I swore I could taste in my second drink turned out to be nothing more than a figment of my imagination.
I was disappointed that the last two drinks were wines. Even though I’d consider myself more a wine wanker than a cocktail connoisseur, it’s more fun identifying the ingredients in a mysterious drink that could have more or less anything in it than trying to detect the subtle flavours of a beverage which tastes of, let’s face it, basically grapes. Yes, the wines were nice, and I did enjoy them, but I don’t think they made the most of the concept. I’d like to see them replaced with more cocktails, with perhaps a sweet one to round off the evening.
Choice of drinks notwithstanding, it was a fun and unusual experience. I’ve always fancied Dans le Noir, Farringdon’s pitch black dining experience, but the prices are high and reviews lacklustre, so I’ve never actually bothered to give it a go.
The event is 90 minutes long but it’s much like going to a regular cocktail bar where you’re left alone in between drinks to have a chat, so it’s a great date idea. Tickets are £45 each – 25% off on Mondays and Tuesdays – but when you consider that you get five drinks and a unique environment in which to drink them, that’s not too bad for Central London. (Buy yours here.) One pleasant side effect is not being able to use your phone for a couple of hours…though, as Pitch Black’s Instagram account will attest, there’s not much to take photos of.
Pitch Black, No Such Place, 68A Neal St, London, WC2H 9PA
Author: Emily Gibson
Emily is an urban adventurer, blogger and
glutton foodie on an epic quest to uncover the best things to eat, drink and do in London. She lives in Islington and loves ceviche, cycling and magic shows. Lifelong nemeses include beetroot, beards and wine served in tumblers.