Many of us are perfectly comfortable living alone or travelling solo for business or pleasure, but when it comes to eating out at a table for one, we run for the hills. Whether it because we’re afraid other diners will feel sorry for us or are unsure of what to do between courses, we survive on takeaways and room service when we could be out having fun like everyone else. If this sounds like you, use our nine steps to help you dine out solo with confidence!
- Make a booking
Nothing is more uncomfortable (even when you’re with friends) than being turned away from a restaurant because it’s full. Phone ahead to reserve a table, and phone again just before you leave to go out to make doubly sure it’s still available.
- Table position
Table position matters to anyone, but it’s especially important when you’re dining alone. Swing by your chosen eatery ahead of time to choose a table that will suit you. Most solo diners favour hugging a wall rather than being seated in the centre of a room. A wall gives a sense of security, it’s something to lean against while you people-watch, and it’s less likely your table will be bumped by staff or other diners (after all, we don’t want our water glass crashing to the floor, even when we’re dining with company!). A window seat is also a great option – it lets you gaze outside from time to time, rather than having to stare at the diners at the next table or fix your gaze on your lap!
- Study the menu before you leave home
Most restaurants have online menus. If they don’t, snap a pic of the menu on your phone when you’re choosing your table, or ask for a copy to be emailed to you. Knowing ahead of time what you want to eat will help you feel confident – because there’s nothing more disconcerting when you’re alone than hovering staff tapping their pen while they wait for your order!
- Mark the spot
Take a spare item of clothing (such as a hat or scarf) to the restaurant with you. If you need to use the restroom, the item can stay behind, signalling that table is occupied. This avoids the potential embarrassment of returning to find someone has nabbed your seat.
- Do have a drink
While skipping alcohol unless you have company is often a good way to go, it’s perfectly acceptable to have a glass of wine or beer with a meal when you’re dining out alone, and often it can help you relax. Don’t be afraid to ask staff to recommend a wine, and do feel comfortable about asking to taste before you order.
- While you wait
Nothing beats a phone to help pass the time between courses, and often, social media sites are the best ones to head to. Engaging digitally with others helps you feel less alone, especially when you take a snap of your surroundings or meal, and share it with friends.
- It’s OK to linger
The last thing you’d do when dining with friends, is dash out right after the final course. But when you’re dining alone, it can sometimes feel awkward staring at an empty table. That’s why it makes sense to leave a little dessert on your plate to dissuade your wait staff from removing the plate!
- Relax – no one notices!
Take our word for it, you may feel you’re sticking out like a sore thumb, but no one else is taking the slightest bit of notice of you. The reality is, diners are engaged in socialising with the people they walked in with. They’re unlikely to even notice you’re there!
- Practice makes perfect
Don’t expect to feel 100% confident the first time you dine out alone – but trust us, it gets easier, and soon you won’t blink twice at the thought of booking a table for one.