For me, eating out alone is unpleasant. Everyone else is either paired up or in a group. All look like they are having fun. When someone else is alone, they look like they are having as dreadful a time as I am.
I used to eat out alone frequently — always on business trips, but there were many of those. Sometimes I managed to stay at the same hotel enough that I got to know the local wait staff. Other times, I used the tried and true technique of eating at the bar — bar tenders know how to make singles feel welcome. When neither a known restaurant or bar were possible, I’d suck it up, pick a restaurant that wasn’t too crowded and ask for a table for one. I never was able to do the room service thing. That felt like a complete cop out.
Tonight, for the first time in over a year, I had to face eating out alone again. I’m in London. Our conference is over. My colleagues have left and I never got my act together to connect with friends.
Hare and Tortoise to the rescue. I was looking for Wagamama, thinking that sitting at a shared table would be friendlier than eating pub food sitting at a bar, when I walked by a Hare and Tortise. There’s four in London, in Bloomsbury, Kensington, Ealing and Putney. The menu includes sushi, sashimi, maki, ramen, lo mein, chow mein and salads. They’re inexpensive by London standards — I had a full dinner, with hot saki, for 15 pounds. They are popular, so be ready for a wait to get in.
And… If you must eat alone, the tables are close together, there are a smattering of students and singles reading at there tables or just enjoying their food, the staff treats you like an old friend and the service is fast so you don’t need to linger if you don’t want to. I’ll definitely go back, even if I’m not eating alone, but especially if I am.
The have a website at www.hareandtortoise.co.uk