I recently went out on a date to Giggling Squid in Windsor for lunch with a lovely person… me! I’ve enjoyed the luxury of eating out alone since I was about 19 and lived by myself for university. One evening I had the strongest desire to go out for dinner and a movie but had no one to go with. I wasn’t going to let a little loneliness get in my way so I dressed up and took myself out.
Giggling squid is a popular Thai restaurant group which specialises in Thai style tapas and fresh Thai food with bold flavours. It’s been on my list for a while now so I booked a table for 1 for a late lunch and cocktail.
Every couple of months I like to book a table somewhere, get dressed and treat myself, but I know for a lot of people the thought of eating in a restaurant alone is overwhelming, daunting and downright scary!
Below are a few tips for those that don’t quite yet have the confidence to try but definitely have the desire.
1. Make a reservation
If this is your first time eating out alone try and reduce the anxiety by picking a restaurant that allows you to make a reservation in advance. This means that they will be expecting you, will already know that you’re eating alone, everyone won’t have to hear you ask “table for one please” and you probably won’t have to hang around in the lobby feeling sad and lonely whilst they find space for you.
2. Use your alter ego
If it’s potential embarrassment holding you back from the joys of solo dining make your reservation in another name. For some people this reduces the anxiety and creates a much more enjoyable experience – do you really need to be embarrassed if they think you’re someone else?
3. Start simple
Avoid popular hotspots for your first solo date and opt for a nice local, low-key spot. They tend to be smaller, more cosy with a chilled vibe. You won’t have too many potential eyes staring at you and you may even see some other solo diners enjoying their own company too.
4. Go for lunch instead
Going out to eat in the middle of the day, particularly during lunch time is much more relaxed than dinner. Restaurants are less busy on weekday afternoons and there’s a better mixture of working professionals, people on business meetings and people out and about simply stopping for a bite to eat. If you would like to go for dinner try dining during the week, Monday – Wednesday as these are said to be the quietest days for restaurants (and often have the best deals).
5. Check the menu in advance
Have a browse of the menu online to avoid the pressure of having to decide on the day. If you’re already feeling nervous, anxious and a bit flustered the last thing you want is the waiter standing whilst you frantically pick anything off the menu. If you know what you want in advance you can still browse when you get there but be relaxed with the confidence that you already know what to say.
6. Stay entertained
A large part of going out to eat is the social aspect and enjoying some good conversation with others. Eating out alone is a good way of spending time with yourself but for some sounds boring. Think about what you would like to do whilst waiting for your food to arrive. You could read a book you’ve been trying to finish for ages, relax with your adult colouring book, download a movie on your phone, update your journal or hash out those overdue plans you had for yourself, people watch or simply relax and chit chat with the waiting staff.
7. Ask to eat at the bar
Eating at the bar is a much more relaxed & informal experience than eating at a table. If you can, find a restaurant that offers the option and request to be seated there. Bartenders are often open to some friendly conversation and watching them work also provides a distraction whilst waiting for your meal. When making your reservation online there is often the option to make requests so pop it in there if possible or give them a call and ask.
8. Make a meal of it
Try and create the hype you usually would feel if you were going out with friends or on a romantic date. Pick a nice outfit, get your hair and nails done and even do your make up if you’re into that. You may be going alone but the more excited you are about the date the more confident you will feel.