Unsicht-Bar: Berlin

Dinner at unsicht-Bar, Berlin

Exactly a fortnight ago, myself  and Niall went through one of the more unforgettable food experiences we’re likely to enjoy on our culinary travels together.

Upon recommendations from a reliable source on Twitter, we made a reservation for the unsicht-Bar Berlin before travelling to the capital city for the Berlin Festival 2010.

I’d read about the “blind” restaurants in London and Paris, and for quite some time have had them on my (ever growing) list of  food places to try out before I go to the Big Cheese Shop in the sky.  Or wherever.

These restaurants are referred to as “blind” restaurants because a) customers eat in the pitch dark and b) the waiters are often visually impaired if not completely blind.

The idea behind unsicht-Bar – “unsicht” being an apparently untranslatable pun on the words invisible and bar – and the other restaurants like it is that the visual sense is the one that most of us  depend on the most for our day to day experience and giving customers the opportunity to remove that sense over dinner could lead to an awakening of other senses.

So, here’s what happened…

As you walk through the front doors of the restaurant, you arrive in a long and dimly-lit bar wherein a number of (non-visually impaired) waiters and waitresses take your coats and show you the menu.

There are five menus to choose from: Poultry, Beef, Lamb, Vegetarian and The Surprise Menu, all of them rather elusively written so as not to give away what exactly you will be eating once you get in the dark.  For example, instead of saying:

Basil filled corn-fed chicken breast

on a roasted vegetables and tomato sauce

with spaghetti

it says:

The feathered animal gilded in a pan

spurs on the vegetable in Italian manner

and dances on the roof of the mouth


So, once we’d given our food and drink orders – I went for the Poultry menu and Niall went for the Surprise menu – we were introduced to our waiter Marcus in the bar next to a very, very dark looking hallway.  Marcus, who seemed to be at least partially and perhaps almost completely blind, then instructed Niall to grab on to his shoulders and for me to grab on to Niall’s, so that we formed an orderly queue.  Quite swiftly, Marcus plunged us into the dark.  Here’s what we saw.

Inside the unsicht-Bar

I don’t believe I’ve ever really experienced such a dark darkness.  Marcus led us around what seemed like a winding hallway until we arrived in what definitely sounded like a dining room.  I had been worried – being afraid of the dark, ahem – that I would get a little freaked out.  Instead, my reaction was one of hysterical giggles.  Nervous giggles I suppose.

Marcus guided us to our table and literally sat us in our chairs.  He then took our hands and showed us where everything was on the table, including each others’ hands in case we needed to give each other a squeeze of reassurance throughout the meal!  Which we did.  He came over to us with our wine and water and helped us to find where our glasses were, before leaving us be after giving a soothing speech about how we could just call if we needed anything.

It was incredible to us that we couldn’t see ANYTHING.  But we soon began to adapt in different ways, like being aware of people around us – and there seemed to be quite a lot – and being able to pour our drinks without any major spillages.

Our starters came and we had the most glorious fun trying to decide what exactly we were eating, as well as trying to get a full forkful of food into our mouths in the dark.  My palate seems to be a little weak without my eyes.  It turned out that what I thought was a tomato was actually a melon.  Yeesh!

Our starters at unsicht-Bar

Delightfully, at the end of the three or four course meal, you are given the chance to read the menus once back in the bright bar.  Which leads to a lot of “Aha”s and “Ahhh”s after the meal.

The alarming experience continued throughout dinner and dessert, although we did become more accustomed to getting food into our mouths – mainly by abandoning the cutlery and eating with our hands.  Which was endless fun.

Dinner at unsicht-Bar

Marcus checked in on us every once in awhile and after our main course we requested a trip to the loo – we were curious to know if one would have to do one’s business  in the dark.  In fact, the loos are back in the light, which we were kind of happy about returning to if only briefly.  We had our little break – we don’t usually go in a pair but we didn’t want to leave each other alone in the dark, that would’ve been proper scary! – and Marcus met us in the dimly lit bar again and we went through the routine of getting back to our table once more, this time to tackle dessert.

Dessert at unsicht-Bar

The only let down for the whole experience is that, sadly, the food isn’t that fantastic.  It’s absolutely fine, quite tasty, but not much better than your standard better than average cafe/bistro.  It would be an absolute whopper of an experience if the food was completely amazing too – but perhaps that would be too much for our senses to take?

Rather, you’re paying for the experience of eating in the dark, and you do pay for it.  We rather nervously drank ourselves through two bottles of wine – in fairness to us we were in the dark for three hours – and we each had a three course meal with some sparkling water.  The bill in the end came to €150 including tip.

Ultimately, it’s one of those experiences that you should definitely squeeze into your eating out budget if at all possible.  We came out of unsicht-Bar in a bit of a daze, miraculously not covered in food and squinting in the dimly-lit bar until becoming reaquainted with the light.  I’d highly recommend it.

unsicht-Bar Berlin
Gormannstr. 14
10119 Berlin – Mitte
Telefon: (+49) (0)30 243425-00
Fax: (+49) (0)30 243425-01

Head here to make a reservation

Categories: Dinner


  1. I’ve always imagined everyone would be whispering! Were there many other diners?

    • It was really hard to tell how many people there were around us – there was definitely a big table to my left and a couple to my right who actually left halfway through their meal because the guy got too freaked out, bless him. About three other parties came in during our meal, but honestly, there could have been 50 people or 10 people in the restaurant, really hard to tell. Your ears kind of play tricks on you! Such a mad experience. Definitely give it a go if you can!

  2. You have made me want to do this SO much! Although I would definitely be wearing a coating of food (and wine) afterwards. Maybe the grub didn’t taste great because you weren’t able to eat it with your eyes? I’m guessing it has to make some difference to the overall dining experience

    • It was completely amazing we weren’t covered in food after the meal. My main course was spaghetti and my dessert was a giant messy chocolate crepe – eating with your hands helped to keep spillages to a minimum. Seriously!

      I thought that about the fact that eating without the visual aspect may have had something to do with the underwhelming factor of the food. I guess I was expecting it to be the other way around – that it would taste better because I’d only be able to concentrate on the taste but yeah, it would have been mind-blowing if the food had been totally fantastic.

      If you ever get the chance, go for it!

  3. Hey Aoife that sounds great! I’d love to give it a try sometime, hope the rest of your trip was amazing

    • The whole trip was brilliant – Berlin is one of the loveliest and easiest cities to be in. I wasn’t expecting it to be so chilled out. It’s like a southern European city in a super organised northern European city. Win! We loved it.

  4. Pingback: Berlin Bites « I Can Has Cook?

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