I realized today that eating out alone isn’t always just eating out alone. Sometimes it can be downright entertaining.
I’m a meat-and-potatoes girl/woman/old broad and a new steakhouse as just opened in our city. Because I am a table of one, I don’t like dining out during peak hours. Seems rude to make others wait while I’m taking up space meant two or more. And, I am not a sit at the bar kinda gal.
Anyway, today I decided to treat myself to a late lunch at the new establishment. This time I went prepared and brought my Kindle along. I’m an avid people watcher and can watch complete strangers for hours on end. I find this highly entertaining, but I’ve noticed the watch’ees quite often begin displaying signs of paranoia and, whenever possible, vacate the vicinity as quickly as possible. Thus, my Kindle… and sweats. Yes, I went out to eat wearing sweats. I don’t care. I’m old, I’m by myself, it’s cold outside and I’m comfortable.
I strolled into the restaurant and was, as usual, asked how many were in my party. I understand the reason behind the question, but some days I just want to say, Forty-five and watch them scramble to make space. Then sit in the midst of all those adjoined tables alone for 15 minutes and when the waitperson stops by for the fifteenth time, shake my head and say, I don’t know what I was thinking. It’s just me today. Today was not a snotty attitude day, so I smiled and told her it would just be me.
Per my request, I was shown to a quiet booth and immediately approached by my waiter asking what I might like to drink. I requested water, he handed me the menu and quickly disappeared. In a flash he returned with my water, a delicious looking loaf of cheese bread with some sort of spread I can’t describe and a huge smile. I had barely had time to open my menu, so with a smile in return I asked for a few moments to peruse their many choices.
As I checked out the menu, I was aware of people walking past my table, but paid little attention to them. The restaurant was hardly empty, even at this hour of the day, with many of tables occupied. Making my decision, I set my menu on the table and commenced slicing into that wonderful loaf of bread. I’d not had a chance to spread the spread when my waiter reappeared with a sweet smile, asking if I’d made a decision. I ordered a char-broiled sirloin with red wine sauce on the side, mashed potatoes and a salad. Usually I prefer a baked potato with my steak, but had heard their mashed potatoes were excellent. He smiled, said he would have my salad right out and poof, he was gone again.
I took my Kindle out of my purse, planning to read while I ate my bread and awaited my salad. Again, I was aware of people walking by my table. Finally I looked up and realized the walkers were not patrons, but the restaurant staff. I do believe that every single staff member, from the hostess, to the waiters, to the chef, to the manager himself, found an excuse to walk past me. Each one of them smiled and said hello. Boom, my salad arrived with a flourish and a smile. I must admit, I didn’t care for the salad much. It had some sort of foreign (foreign to me, that is) substance in it I didn’t like the taste of. As I nibbled on the leafy parts and watched the staff peaking at me, it dawned on me what might be going on.
The restaurant opened just a few days ago and is brand new to the city. In walks this old broad, alone, in sweats, no makeup, a little on the quiet side and pulls out a Kindle. Is that an IPad?? Oh have mercy, now she’s on her cell phone. Crap, she’s a food critic! (could have been, Crap it’s an old lady, alone, in sweats and no makeup!). I prefer the former of the two.
I decided to play this one to the hilt.
Putting on my serious face, I pulled out my cell phone, placed it on my lap and proceeded to text my daughter. This was way too comical not to share, right? Boom, my meal arrived with another huge smile and is there anything else I can get you? Once my smiling waiter departed, I picked up my fork and got a small portion of the mashed potatoes. I put them in my mouth and slowly savored the taste before I swallowed (they were delicious). I paused for a moment, and went back to my cell phone. I then cut a piece of steak (done perfectly, might I add), and with a serious expression, chewed slowly. Again, savoring the delicious flavor. Then again, pretended to go back to my cell phone. The parade of staff, and peaking of other staff members never ceased.
I am happy to report I was not hounded while I ate. How often do we go out to relax and eat a meal we did not have to cook, only to be constantly pestered by our waiter the moment we shovel food into our mouth? Wait for it…wait for it…okay now! “How is everything?” we are asked sweetly as we try to chew a load of cauliflower. They do this on purpose, you know. It’s in the training manual.
That never happened at this restaurant. I was allowed to enjoy every bite in peace. Only once did my smiling waiter approach me and I was not chewing at the time.
When I finished, I slid my plate back and in the blink of an eye my dishes were picked up and my smiling waiter asked if I would be interested in desert.
I had heard their chocolate cake was to die for. Knowing I was way to full to take more than a bite or two, I ordered a slice of that cake anyway (and a to-go box). A few minutes later, deeply engrossed in my book, a voice caught my attention. Looking up, I saw that before me had been placed the biggest slice of chocolate cake I’ve ever seen. It was gargantuan. A behemoth slab of cake. At my table stood the manager, who’s grand smile never faltered when I screeched, “Are you kidding me!?”
That sucker was six layers, 14″ long (tall, before it was cut and laid on it’s side), 4″ thick and 4 1/2 ” deep. Two pounds of cake! I did not read the part that said it would feed six people. Silly me. Anyway, the manager, the wait staff and all nearby patrons got a real kick out of that one. And, even after talking a table neighbor into taking a hunk, I still have enough cake to clog the arteries of my sister, her family and half of her neighborhood tomorrow night.
By the time I headed home, to-go box in tow, I’m pretty sure the staff had decided I was not a local food critic after all. Then again, maybe critics do flip out from time to time and frantically take phone photos of outrageous food items while maniacally laughing.