Dining out alone: The bar

When I started blogging again, I always thought that I would write more about my experiences eating alone. I probably haven’t done so because there’s no security blanket of pictures to refer to and eat up space on the page. However, a semi-recent GQ article by David Chang on eating at the bar got me thinking about the subject again.

I’ve noticed that in many of the romantic odes to eating alone, there is always a promotion of eating at the bar. You can meet people, talk to the bartender, and you do not have to deal with all the customs that come with sitting at a table. Most importantly, getting a solo seat at the bar is often immensely easier than trying to get a table. The odds are always in your favour that there will be an odd seat out, and you will have either no wait or a very short one. This has been key for me getting into some perpetually busy or buzzy places. Sometimes, I’ll try to make reservations because I like planning ahead. But if I can’t or haven’t, being solo is the ticket for getting an easy seat.

That is the only reason I like to eat at the bar.

As an anti-social introvert, I rarely want to talk to people if I’ve chosen to eat out alone. If Prince Charming happens to approach me, so be it. But otherwise, as a solo female, I’m not eating alone at the bar because I’m waiting to be picked up or even to meet people. (INTJs don’t make room for spontaneous encounters of any kind.) I actually rarely have a problem with unwanted conversation. Probably because anti-social introverts are easy to recognize via their resting faces. The magazine I usually have my nose in also helps. That’s not to say that I have never ended up having some very nice conversations with strangers.

Bar seats can be really uncomfortable. Kind of an obvious one.

The actual bar can be awkward for eating. Sometimes the space is too narrow or you’re too tight to your neighbour for the cutlery, water glass, wine glass, bread plate, etc. And then a magazine? Reading off my phone is usually the only option.

A bartender’s first job is to tend bar. They are filling the drink orders for the entire restaurant. You just happen to also be their ward, so the service can be spotty. I find that in places that strongly encourage eating at the bar, you’re usually fine. But at places where you “can” eat at the bar, sometimes, even when you’re right in front of them, they forget about you.

Or maybe my resting face contributes to this as well.


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