I remember clearly the first time I decided to eat dinner alone. I was traveling alone on business. At the time, I was in the Travel category at The New York Times. This particular assignment became a very important one for me personally. It was a truly challenging one. And it gave me tremendous opportunity to explore and begin the many experiences that are now core to “A Table For One”.
“May you live all the days of your life” Jonathan Swift
Generally speaking, I had been inclined to stay put at the hotels I stayed in, if I didn’t have a client dinner. I would sometimes order room service as an easy “out” for not pushing myself to go to a restaurant alone. But this particular trip, I was in New Orleans for the first time. And it was not going to be possible to ignore the unique and spectacular culinary delights of this city. New Orleans’ jazz isn’t just music, it’s also food!
My mother always spoke of the famous restaurants in New Orleans with reverence. She insisted that I take the opportunity to enjoy the best ones on my trip. In particular, she insisted that I go to Antoine’s for dinner and Brennan’s for brunch, where she recalled some of the best meals she had long ago.
And so I forced myself to venture past the hotel boundaries and into the French Quarter for the first fine dining experience I had ever had on my own. It was unforgettable for many reasons. First of all, I had a very hard time forcing the words “A Table For One please”, out of my mouth. It sounded thunderously awful and as though it might draw the unwanted attention of the entire restaurant to me. I fidgeted endlessly in what seemed to be an unending moment of silence. Everything went blank.
And then, the maitre d’ repeated with a question mark “A Table For One?” I said yes, please. And that was it. He reached for a menu with great flourish, swooped up a wine list and asked me to follow him. We headed into the dining room and he pointed to a beautiful table with a fabulous view of the room, but also discreetly located out of the way. I could see everything without feeling awkwardly obvious as a solo diner. Wonderful.
Not only was it a wonderful meal, the experience gave me incredible confidence to do it again and again and again. In other cities, wherever I went on personal or business trips. It impressed me that this experience took place in a restaurant that was so well known. And at the time, I made a note to self that this was the best way to approach “A Table For One”. Don’t miss an opportunity, just because you’re alone. Find the right spot and go for it. You will never look back.
Copyright 2015 Marion O’Grady