User avatarDining Alone Diary

Earlier this week I was working away from home for a couple of days which gave me an excellent opportunity to sit around looking like Billy No Mates whenever I wanted to eat something. The experience of dining out alone can vary from crap to middling, so here are my reviews of some of my eating experiences.

Hotel Bar Thing at the Hotel

This was full of lonely people on business sitting at their own tables and trying to find ways of passing the time. I had a beer and a burger, which was delivered mercifully quickly. I was reading a book, but from a quick survey around the rest of the room, I was in a minority. The bloke in a suit had a copy of the Telegraph, two people were doing something on their phones, and one man (presumably a first-timer) had nothing and was just staring out of the window. He’ll learn.

The burger was served on a piece of slate which is never acceptable. Payment was in advance, at the time of ordering the food, which made a quick getaway possible afterwards. 3/5 marks.

Nando’s

Everyone likes a Nando’s except when you get shown to a table on your own in the midst of a load of big tables where massive groups of friends are all having a brilliant time. You just look like a lonely sad act without any friends of your own. You can’t order without first being shown to a table so you have to either leave all your belongings unattended or carry them all up to the till with you.

Interestingly, in the time I was there the big groups of people all left, and gradually the place was populated almost entirely by men conspicuously eating on their own and staring into space. The one who ended up sitting at the table next to mine was chewing really loudly so possibly he wasn’t on business and really did have no friends because he was repellent.

Again, paying in advance made for a very rapid getaway from this strange and unpleasant business, and I got some points on my loyalty card to save up for delicious free chicken. 3/5.

Hotel breakfast

Somehow everyone who showed up for breakfast at 7:15 was in a couple or a whole group of people and the breakfast buffet – normally the preserve of the solo diner who can rely on not looking like a complete social outcast for at least this one meal of the day – did an exceptional job of making me look like a friendless loner. The bacon was plentiful and and the coffee was good, and of course it was all free, so I consoled myself with a pile of greasy fried things and ate with a speed that only comes when you want to pack in up to four courses of free food but can only spare 20 minutes to eat.

There were no good tables left when I arrived so I ended up being seated at a table for four right next to the door, making me as conspicuous as possible. I found myself sliding down in my chair in an effort to blend in with my surroundings.

I also failed to find time for a course of pancakes. 2/5.

17 comments to Dining Alone Diary

  • Ian "Mac Mac Mac Mac" McIver

    My condolences to your stomach for not finding time for pancakes. I think this is a common problem in this country; those who do not find time for specific foods.

    For instance, I always find time for eggs. I never have time for black pudding but there’s a reason for that.

  • Kevil

    Reading this makes me a little sad inside.

    Why don’t you start a club for business loners single diners, so you can all sit awkwardly together so you don’t look so conspicuous?

  • I try to find as much time as I can for eggs. The problem with giving your time to eggs is that, if you pay them too much attention, they tend to go away.

    The club is a nice idea except that I don’t actually want to meet any of these people. What I really want is for restaurants to have one-person accommodation. Not just tables that are only set for one person, but also located in a secluded location.

  • Ian "Mac Mac Mac Mac" McIver

    If you could sit on the ceiling, would you?

  • No, that would be highly conspicuous. Plus, if I was on the ceiling I’d be dancing.

  • Ian "Mac Mac Mac Mac" McIver

    Oh, what a feeling…

    #gratuitouslionelritchiereference

  • Kevil

    You could start a new restaurant chain called “Dining on the Ceiling” I’m not sure how that would work, but You’ll figure it out. You’re a resourceful fellow.

  • I am, aren’t I?

  • Ian "Mac Mac Mac Mac" McIver

    He’s already done it. I was there when it happened. I’ve got the original blueprints and planning permissions and everything.

  • You’ve got planning permission? I thought they’d want to see the feasibility study for the hydraulic tables and the risk assessment for the underground kitchen operating in total darkness before they’d grant it.

  • Ian "Mac Mac Mac Mac" McIver

    The Council were so impressed by the “unique dining experience” that was promised by the initial napkin sketches that they granted it there and then. And then also here and possibly everywhere.

  • “Everywhere” is exactly where, ultimately, I’d like to have branches.

  • Ian "Mac Mac Mac Mac" McIver

    Leaf it out. That’s not the root of the problem. I believe it was originally highlighted in the report from two thousand and tree…

    *waits for applause*

  • Applause? I wouldn’t applaud that if it had just performed a violin concerto.

  • Ian "Mac Mac Mac Mac Mac" McIver

    It did, and then it drew a perfect figure 8 right over yo feace.

    How’d you like them apples?

  • I’m ignoring those apples in the hope they go away.

  • Ian "Mac Mac Mac Mac" McIver

    I’m going to tell you what I told Eamonn Holmes:

    “It’s not going away and it’s going to get bigger and fatter.”

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