Tuesday, November 15, 2011

the good, the bad and the ugly of dining alone

On my recent trip, as I was sent to work this convention all by my lonesome, I had to declare my 'party of one' status on multiple occasions.  The first night I chose a brew-pub restaurant. After traveling most of the day, and spending a frustrating and sweaty hour setting up our booth, I needed a beer. Pubs are one place that solo diners/drinkers are not out of place. I was given a lovely booth, proceeded to enjoy a good meal, a great beer and several pages of "Major Pettigrew's Last Stand".  I was tired, a bit grumpy and in no mood for conversation as my ears were plugged from the flights and the head cold that I'd brought with me from home.

The second night I chose a chain Italian place I'd never eaten in before.....don't bother with Spaghetti Warehouses for their food, but the decor is stunning.  A whole bunch of educators were in the lobby of this establishment waiting for the golden 5:00 pm hour so they could be seated.  A few groups ahead of me, I overheard another lady say she was alone. When I made it into the dining room, they had placed her at a nasty two person table stuck back in a corner while I was given a nice 4 person table by the window. I, of course, asked her to join me, which she did. We had a lovely time getting to know each other over a mediocre meal. It was nice to 'break bread' with someone else.

By the time Friday rolled around my voice was toast - a combination of the lingering cold and talking for two days straight. I had selected a really nice place for dinner, a lovely bistro with an up and coming chef. I settled into my table, the waiter was a pro and made me feel comfortable. I had a great steak meal, a nice glass of wine and a fabulous apple cider creme brulee for dessert. All was well until the bistro started filling up with groups going to the college basketball game. Being the only party of one in an entire room is a bit daunting. I had left my book at the hotel and had to settle for people watching as I enjoyed my meal. The waiter was quick to pick up on my need to depart quickly, I'm sure he was also eager to sit two people in the space I occupied.

The good, the bad and the ugly of dining alone. Well, it is often the perfect ending to a hectic day. It can also be a very lonely experience when surrounded by groups of folks happy to celebrate Friday and an impending basketball game. It can be an opportunity to meet other people as I did on Thursday.


Lisa Shafer said...

I generally prefer take out and eating alone in private to eating alone in a restaurant, although I generally prefer not eating in restaurants anyway, so that may have something to do with it.
I have learned, however, that lone travelers are "approachable" by others. More strangers will strike up conversations with me when I'm alone than when I'm with people. I've met some interesting folks that way.

Liz said...

My hotel was lovely and I debated ordering room service or getting take out someplace, but decided to step outside my comfort zone every opportunity I had on this trip...hence the 'table for one' decisions. I'm such a creature of habit and saw this as a prime chance to shake things up a bit! Glad I did.