How to Dine Alone Like a Spinster
When it comes to dining "one top," you can either hate it or embrace it. And, unless you particularly enjoy looking around nervously while you eat something you really didn't want just because you didn't want the other patrons to judge you, I suggest you learn to love eating out alone. Once you get the hang of it, it can be really fun.
Of course, I'm not just going to tell you to like this and then leave you hanging. I've got five tips for how you, too, can be an avid "one, please," customer.
1. Be seated:
Often when a hostess sees you've asked for a table for "just one," she'll try to seat you at the bar. If you really want to become a pro at eating alone, You'll need to get your own table. Sitting at the bar is like announcing to the rest of the restaurant that you're not OK with the fact that you're eating alone, and 'please, for goodness sake, someone talk to me!' That often welcomes the wrong element, I have found. There are a lot of creepy men who also like to have their meals at the bar. Get a table instead. Bonus: it feels fancier.
2. Bring a book...or write one:
I used to bring a book to read when I dined out, and that worked pretty well. The only thing was that I would become too distracted by the other patrons and kept losing my place in within the paragraphs. So, I started bringing my journal. When eating at a sit-down restaurant, I like order some tea or fresh squeezed orange juice or what have you, and then I start in on making a journal entry about where I am, what I'm doing, etc. When I'm especially lucky, I'm seated next to people having a fascinating conversation which I, of course, record in some detail, complete with commentary. The real jackpot is to be seated next to a first date. Always entertaining.
3. Order a drink:
Well, I'm not really talking about that kind of drink, but I'm not really telling you what you can and can't do. I like to order a hot tea or coke or juice or really anything but water. When dining alone, you should make yourself feel as if you're giving yourself a special luxury. You can have ice water, too, if you want. At least have some coffee, though.
4. Sit by the window:
This is a tip that's especially important for beginners. If at all possible, sit somewhere where you can look out the window while you eat. This way, if you feel like the other diners are watching you, you can occupy your thoughts with the goings on outside of the restaurant. If a window seat is not available, there's always Words With Friends or Tetris or your book or your journal or a sketchbook. Once you become more accustomed to dining alone, though, you may not feel so much like you're being observed and, in fact, may become comfortable just sitting by your lonesome. Or, as the English say "on your Larry."
5. Consider Dessert:
In an effort to reward yourself for a successful solo dining experience, you should at least consider the dessert. If the restaurant offers to show you a dessert menu, always ask to see it. You may not actually order dessert, but you need to know what the restaurant has available. If they have good dessert, you may talk yourself into ordering some. If you don't talk yourself into ordering some this time, you may want to order something lighter next time just so you can have the dessert. Or, what am I saying here? You may want to forego the meal all together and just eat dessert. When you're a spinster, you do what you want.
Bonus: Tip well, especially if you plan on returning this way. Servers don't necessarily relish the idea of serving a one top, so ensure they remember and like you, and it will go a long way to securing your spot as a welcome and well-liked customer.
If you follow these suggestions, you might just prefer yourself to any other dinner companion you could have.