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How to eat alone in a restaurant

August 4, 2008

Yes, I’ve done it. I do it. I go to restaurants on my own. I go to cinemas on my own, in fact I do a lot of things on my own. I know many women who would never dream of this and would starve rather than eat in a public place on their own. Well, I’m far too greedy for that and nobody messes with my food!

I haven’t always been able to do it, its that almost physical mental barrier of feeling like a billy-no-mates (who was this billy anyway?). Everyone will stare and you and feel sorry for you. And what do you do when you’ve ordered and you can’t distract yourself with the menu? Do you stare at everyone else? Where do you look if they don’t have a TV?

Before you even get to sit down you have to get over the look on the face of the waiter when you ask for a table for one, it’s that ‘we’ve got another one here Bob…’ look. You might get the feeling they want to put you in the corner so you don’t make them look bad by just being one person instead of a group of 10. Or, like my most recent experience in Barcelona, they seem happy to seat you and then shout out in their loudest voice across the restaurant “‘Ere charlie, we got one ‘ere. Nah, she’s on ‘er own mate, no-one else is wiv ‘er” (translated from Spanish cockney). Everybody in the restaurant turns around to look at this one person on their own, this loner, this sad, sad, sad person.

So after confirming your worst fears about dining alone, throw them out of the window. Noone can deny the social nature of restaurants but when you’re travelling alone for work or leisure, you have to eat and you might as well eat well! There are ways to eat in a restaurant and not feel alone, lonely, like a loner or stared at! Here is my easy peasy guide to eating alone.

1. Pick a restaurant where most of the tables are not set for two. Family and group friendly places somehow make you feel less alone than an intimate locale

2. If you can, pick a table outside. You’ve instantly got something to do, watch the world go by! (Only possible in the summer or in hot places)

3. Make the waiter your bessie mate. Act like you come here all the time, crack a joke or two, smile widely. They’re gonna try and make you feel special and pay you attention so you feel at ease. This is particularly a good idea when asking for something that’s supposed to be for a minimum of two people! Apparently this works with guys too. Be prepared to tip for the pleasure.

4. Where you can, bring a book/newspaper or magazine to read. Works for breakfast, why not lunch and dinner too. You might not want to do this in an upscale restaurant however!

5. Do not…and I repeat DO NOT ever stare at other diners, you’ll only look sad and end up feeling like a prat. If you catch someone’s eye, then smile, but look away discretely.

6. If you find it hard not to stare, don’t sit facing the restaurant, face the kitchen or bar or the street depending on where your table is.

7. If you still can’t bring yourself to dine alone, please feel free to starve.

There’s good food out there, its waiting to be eaten and I for one am not going to let a little old thing like being on my lonesome stop me from eating it! Bon Apetit!

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