Watch: Mine and dine your date for €475 a head in SloveniaComments
Mine dining is on the menu at a new Slovenian restaurant, 160 metres underground.
At this former coal mine in the town of Velenje, customers get a glimpse into the life of a miner along with a three-course meal. Visitors are taken deep below the surface, into a setting of old shafts and coal-digging equipment.
The Velenje mine was once an important source of coal in Slovenia but closed decades ago, as coal production went into decline. Its new guise as the venue for a pop-up dining experience is a joint venture between a restaurant and the mining museum.
Helmets firmly on their heads, a guide accompanies diners into the miners' lift. As the door shuts, the light slowly disappears and darkness takes over. Scenes from Velenje's mining history are recreated below, with mining equipment on display.
The restaurant serves dishes based on food eaten by the miners, which have to be prepared on the surface and brought below the surface as kitchen appliances can't be used underground, due to the risk of a methane explosion.
Methane gas explosion
Chef Primoz Gorisek says it involves a lot of advance preparation. "Here underground we can't use the appliances we use in the kitchen, that's why we do most of the preparations upstairs in our kitchen, and then we finish it here. Of course, a lot of organising and calculating is necessary, so we don't forget something. Here, you have what you have."
As part of the experience, organisers also stage a simulated methane gas explosion, to evoke the dangers that miners once faced in the pit.
Ales Rehar is the head guide at the Slovenian Museum of Mining. "There are some dangers present inside the mine. Above all, in coal mines there's methane. Coal is organic matter and those gases escape from coal deposits. That gas is always present and during the history of this mine, there were two large explosions of methane, when 31 miners died within a month," he explains.
After the meal, visitors ride on an old mining train that swerves through the underground caverns, before they arrive back at the elevator to travel to the surface. There, in a huge museum hall, pieces of clothing and shoes once worn by the miners hang from the ceiling.
And the cost to mine and dine your date? €475 per person.