FOOD & BEVERAGE | Krisana Gallezo-Estaura, Hong Kong

Check out HK’s first dining-in-the-dark restaurant

Experience an actual blind date at the Alchemy in the Dark.

Restaurant group French Creations introduced its first venture within the fine dining segment when it launched the Alchemy last June. The Alchemy represents the sixth opening of the Group, which bills itself as ‘a place where culinary conventions are thrown aside in favour of a truly sensory experience’.

Alchemy is set across two floors and aims to deliver two very different experiences from one dining enclave.

The Alchemy Gastro-Lounge, located at the second floor, has a relaxed yet indulgent bar setting where the focus is on crafted cocktails; masterful Mixology alongside casual dining. It also has a stylish bar which will be open for casual dining and crafted drinks at lunch, dinner & for weekend brunch.

Alchemy Gastro-Lounge offers a selection of small plates - tapas-style, as well as assorted hot & cold dishes and indulgent desserts, accompanied by an impressive wine list.

According to Julie Vigneron of French Creations, with Alchemy Gastro-Lounge, they wanted to offer a new, relaxing and cosy atmosphere. They also wanted to create a place where anyone can share time with their friends, lover, and/or colleagues.

Located at the ground floor is Alchemy in the Dark, which claims to be the first fine dining restaurant in the dark in Hong Kong. It introduces a sensory and social experience where guests are invited to re-evaluate their perception of taste and smell. As the name suggests, guests dine in complete darkness - raw ingredients combine with this unusual setting to create an experience verging on the miraculous.

Alchemy in the Dark, is an 850sq. ft. room with no light. The intimate setting has only 25 seats wherein each guest is personally greeted and guided to their table by their team of ‘guides’. Alchemy’s ‘guides’ are visually impaired waiting staff who rely entirely on touch, smell, taste and hearing; each sense heightened by the completely dark environment.

Julie said that the restaurant’s menu will change regularly with a focus on highly distinct textures and flavours, and dishes will retain the structure and organization on the plate as in a traditional restaurant. The theme of alchemy extends also to people – with no mobile phones and no light pollution, guests are invited to engage in a social experience alchemy between them without distractions; a richly human experience that is both mysterious and intriguing.

While French Creations has been in the hospitality business in Hong Kong for years now, Alchemy in the Dark is their first venture which asked for a more organized operational strategy. “We had to think like blind people. We had to think and anticipate things, like being able to plunge the room in a total darkness or curving the angles of the tables to avoid people hurting themselves. Completely immersive, the focus is on putting guests at ease, allowing them to enjoy the experience that is immersive and sensory in all ways but one. Then we have to train the waiters. Even if they are visually impaired we had to train them as waiters and give them some markers,” said Julie.

Alchemy founders

Seven individuals made Alchemy possible: Jerome Spitzer & Olivier Caisson, owners of French Creations, Yacine Bensalem & Richard Moreau, owners of In Situ & Partners, Chef Pascal Breant, Kevin Le Nabasque, the manager, and Francois Ducrot, the businessman.

French Creations is now being esteemed for its authentically French casual dining venues across the Hong Kong Island. Jerome and Olivier jump started their venture with the opening of Pastis in November 2009. The group has enjoyed rapid and successful expansion with cocktail lounge Le Boudoir in October 2010, Happy Valley favourite Saint-Germain in June 2011, French American Bistro (F.A.B.) in March 2012, and expanding west with the opening of Metropolitain in Sai Ying Pun in March 2013. Alchemy represents the sixth opening for the group, and its first venture within fine dining.

Dubbed as The Chef, Pascal Breant hails from Normandy in Northern France. His culinary journey began at aged 8, helping after school in the family ‘boulangerie’. At age 17, he began his apprenticeship at Le Bristol (Paris, One Michelin Star at the time), followed by noted restaurants including La Tour d'Argent (Paris, Three Michelin Stars at the time) and restaurant Issautier (Nice, Two Michelin Stars at the Time) as he developed his craft.

In 1989, he left France to seek knowledge in different cultures. His culinary journey has taken him across more than 10 countries from America to Asia. After more than ten years experiencing Japan, United States, Caribbean, United Kingdom, Germany, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand, he chose Hong Kong to settle and refine his art.

Chef Pascal’s cuisine is modern French style with the international influence you might expect from a chef with such diverse international experience.

Restaurant details: Alchemy - G/F & LG/F, 16 Arbuthnot road, Central - (852) 6821 2801 - www.alchemy-concept.com

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Check out HK’s first dining-in-the-dark restaurant

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