Eating at a Restaurant Alone

Normally when I do something outside of my comfort zone on this blog it involves jumping out of a plane, walking on fire, or plunging into an ice-cold lake. While this week’s post seems mundane by comparison, it actually made me really uncomfortable to think about it. When I saw an article asking “Are You Ashamed to Eat Out Alone?” I decided it was time to mark this one off of the list.

Yes, I’ve grabbed a quick bite here and there by myself before. I have a favorite lunch spot back home that I sneak off to each time I visit and I’ve spent hundreds (probably thousands) of hours studying alone at coffee shops. But I have never gone to a nice restaurant and enjoyed an entire meal alone.

I set up a few ground rules:

  1. I could not go to a bar, but it was ok to sit at a bar.
  2. No technology. I had to keep my phone in my bag (though taking a photo or two was ok).
  3. I had to go to a nice local restaurant.
  4. I had to order, at the very least, a cocktail I’ve never tired, an entrée, and either an appetizer or a dessert.
  5. I could bring one piece of reading material.

Picking a restaurant was not an easy task. There are new amazing restaurants popping up in Nashville every day. The choices were limitless, but I wanted to find just the right spot. Perhaps I was over thinking it, but since the only thing I was there to enjoy was the atmosphere and food, I had to make sure both were just right. I tried to find a place I hadn’t been to, but nothing was really striking my fancy for this particular experience. I perused lists of the best restaurants in Nashville and City House seemed to pop up every single time. I’d been there before so I knew it had excellent food, a great drink selection, and I could sit at the bar and watch what was going on in the kitchen. It was perfect.

I had to work late, so I got to the restaurant after 9. I asked for a seat at the end of the bar. I settled in and ordered a drink called the Bandit, which was made of Averna, grapefruit juice, Ginger Ale, and a lime. It hit the spot.

Margherita

I ordered a margarita pizza. Usually you can order it with an egg on top, but they were out that night. Heart break! If you have not had an egg on a pizza before then you are not living life to its fullest. I had the perfect seat; I could watch the guys spin the dough and then cook the pizza right in front of me in a beautiful wood-fire oven.

Pizza Oven

To keep me company I brought a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird, a book I have not read since middle school. Perhaps it is appropriate that the epigraph states, “Lawyers, I suppose, were children once.” I don’t get a lot of time to read for pleasure. In fact, other than in-flight magazines, I don’t think I’ve read for fun in over a year. I forgot how nice it is.

Kitchen view

For dessert I had the Honey Vanilla Panna Cotta which had fresh peaches, preserves, prosecco jelly, zabaglione, and buttermilk cornmeal cookies. This was my first time trying panna cotta. It was basically a sweet creamy gelatin dessert with some white wine jelly and fresh peaches. The peaches were sweet and fragrant; they were all I could smell while I was eating the dessert. It was absolute heaven.

Panna Cotta

I really liked eating by myself. I was nice to have some alone time at the end of the day. I particularly liked that being alone meant I got to move at my own pace. If I wanted to read for a few minutes while I contemplated having a 4th slice of pizza I could (and did). Usually I am so busy talking at dinner that I forget to eat and then have to devour the food so I don’t make people wait. This time I could eat as much as I wanted at the pace I wanted, and I enjoyed the dining experience a lot more. I even finished my entire dessert (but I did take home the last 2 slices of pizza).

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22 thoughts on “Eating at a Restaurant Alone

  1. Magdalena says:

    Sounds really cool! I’ve always had a kind of fear of eating alone in a restaurant, but it sounds like an awesome idea to push one’s limits. I think I’ll try it some time! :D

  2. kayleymurphy says:

    I’ll eat alone if I have to but I usually do it sneakily and quickly. Lol. I’m going to practice being more relaxed. Thanks for the post.

  3. […] 52 Things, 52 weeks is a blog where the author describes herself as “Entertainment attorney. IP nerd. Foodie. Coffee lover. Mac enthusiast. Yoga addict. Insomniac. Shutterbug. World traveler.” After reading my recent post, she decides this is the week she will try eating out alone: […]

  4. Amanda says:

    I really love this! I am doing a much smaller “new things” project. I’m trying to do 100 new things by the end of the year, but they’re not as interesting as jumping out of a plane or walking on coals. I’m just trying to get outside my comfort zone (like going a whole day without makeup). Anyway, one of my things I want to do is go see a movie alone, but I love the idea of eating at a restaurant alone too! I’m adding it to my list! Thanks for the inspiration! I really enjoy your blog.

  5. Ron says:

    This is a great project and I wish you the best of luck. Are people still reluctant to eat out alone? If you travel a lot, as I do, you get over that one fast. And if folks in Nashville are still as friendly as they were when I lived there you should have no problem at all.

    PS – I finished my private pilot license in Nashville. Flying back to BNA after night cross country was one of my all time memorable experiences.

    • I’ve had a surprisingly large number of female friends comment that they have never eaten at a restaurant alone and have been reluctant to do so. But guys generally seem to be ok with it. I never realized that until this week.

      Congrats on getting your pilot’s license. Maybe I’ll get the courage to go up again.

      • Robert says:

        I travel all over the world for my job and I still feel a little self conscious eating alone. I usually bring a book and eat but sometimes I just order room service. I recently moved to Nashville area with my family, so have checked your blog to see local stuff to do. Keep it up!

  6. Tom says:

    Everyone must have a ‘gourmet’ meal alone. What a wonderful treat.
    Pick a ‘famous’ restaurant in your area and make a reservation.
    Dress up – business professional – male or female.
    Get there early and have a sophisticated drink – martini, Manhattan, Gibson – nothing from a blender. A good wine is acceptable but, just this once …
    The bartender will let your servers know how to serve you if you give him some clues. Don’t be an ass.
    Plan to spend $100.00 and enjoy.

  7. Pamela says:

    I dine out alone quite frequently, and the technology I use is my iPod: I listen to audio books, and I look forward to the experience because I get to do 2 of my favorite things —dining and getting into a good book!

  8. 27539yhfbfk says:

    Put garlic and oregano on our eggs and you don’t need the pizza

  9. Russ says:

    As a professional who travels constantly, I eat out often alone. I’ve met many others doing the same & have always found Nashville one of the friendlier places for the experience. At first it felt uncomfortable, but that went away years ago.

  10. Bart says:

    Not to be too much of a stickler here, but sitting at the bar of a pizza place is not what I expected when you said you were eating at a restaurant alone. I figured you were going to go to a place where you sat at a table and ordered a meal off the menu. For all of the other great stuff you have done, this seems like you almost missed the goal.

  11. superflat says:

    almost all business travelers eat alone fairly frequently, and i suspect most discover (as i did) that’s it’s nice to sit at the bar in a good restaurant, have a good meal, watch the food being prepared, maybe meet some interesting fellow travelers (hah), etc. enjoy.

  12. liz953 says:

    I am a sous chef in a waterfront seafood restaurant, and seldom get to see people enjoy the food i’ve prepped. I often eat alone and appreciate the effort that goes into producing a good meal. And, like many fellow restaurant staffers, I tend to tip generously, especially at breakfast.

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