Dining alone. First of all, let’s not think of it as being alone, because in reality you are surrounded by people. Some of the main reasons for dining out are atmosphere and service, so you don’t need someone sitting across the table from you to experience the ambiance of a restaurant. In fact, some of my most pleasurable dining experiences have included me, a glass of wine, low lights, a non-mainstream newspaper and my server. There was no one else except for the other guests who helped create the aforementioned ambiance.
Another thing to avoid is “preparing” to dine alone. It’s not a ritual! You don’t need to mentally prep yourself or give yourself a motivational speech in order to dine solo. Just walk in, sit down and eat. It’s really that simple. If what you’re afraid of is what the other guests are thinking when they see you alone, then you have a couple of problems. One, why do you care what a bunch of complete strangers are thinking? And two, they probably aren’t thinking anything because you just aren’t that important to them. So next time you think about dining alone, just do it. There’s no art to it, there’s no stigma, it’s simply enjoying a meal outside your home.
I find dining alone to be an interesting and wonderful way to really take in all a restaurant has to offer. However, that is not to say that I prefer dining alone. I love to sit and drink wine and share a meal with a friend or a significant other or even a large group of people, but my focus will tend towards the people I’m with rather than the restaurant and the food.
Now, if I’m eating at the corner Chinese restaurant that offers cheap yet decent food and terrible decor and service, I want to have my friends there. I want to be distracted in a place like that. But if I’m in a sexy, low-lit bistro with graceful service, perfectly chosen music playing at the perfect volume, delectable food and great wine, I think I could absorb the whole scene a little better if I dine alone. And if I fall in love with the place, I’ll bring everyone back with me and share my wonderful new discovery. So that’s dining alone – simplicity, enrichment and discovery.