As a travel writer we often get sent on assignments alone, so sitting in a fine dining restaurant and ordering delicious plates of food on my own has been something that I’ve had to come to terms with. Recently I was sitting alone at my table admiring the wine and looking out at the most incredible view. The sun was setting, and the sky was transforming from yellow, to orange with hints of blue and purple. Alone at a mountain luxury escape with a beautiful lake and trees and mountains surrounding me, I was so relaxed that even dining alone was not going to phase me.
However, on this night I noticed another solo dining woman… who talked on her cell phone through the entire meal.
I was at one end of the restaurant, and she was at the other, and I could hear her laughing and talking the whole time. The waitress would go by to check on her, and she would be ignored as the woman continued her phone conversation while waving her off.
I wondered, Was this how she coped with dining on her own?
In our defense, the awkwardness of dining alone starts at the door of the restaurant. There is that hanging question mark in “Table for ooooone???”
Then this repeats when the waiter comes to your table and says it again. “Dining aloooone?” This question is almost always followed by the uncomfortable removal of the extra plates, cutlery or drinkware at the table.
I know that I am not the perfect solo diner either. At my table, there will often be a large camera, a notebook and my phone. Eating alone is my job after all, and I have to take photos of the table, each entrée and sometimes share some posts throughout the meal on social media. I do not take pictures of other diners (unless they are blurred out in the background) and I try to do this as efficiently and quickly as possible as I know it is distracting.
Dining alone is uncomfortable at times, but this woman’s loud laughter and constant talking felt like it crossed a line. Here’s what we should all keep in mind when we find ourselves dining alone:
1. Don’t let the staff or hosts get to you. There is absolutely no shame in eating a meal alone. Own it, be proud of it and know that there are thousands of people on business, travelling alone, or who just want to go out and enjoy a good meal.
2. Don’t be afraid to ask for a window or a table with a view. Just because you are dining alone doesn’t mean you have to sit hidden in the corner of the restaurant.
3. Stop and enjoy your surroundings. Don’t be afraid to look around and take it all in. It may just lead to some chit chat with a nearby table, and if they know the restaurant, you may just get some great meal recommendations.
4. Bring a distraction but don’t be a distraction.A tablet, book, notebook or phone can all provide something to do in between courses. Remember to turn devices to silent and try not to disturb the people around you.