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Dining Alone - Experiences, treatment by restaurant staff

huiray Jan 30, 2011 07:30 PM

What are your experiences when dining alone, particularly in fine dining places or at least 'nice' places? How does the staff treat you? How do you manage 'signals' you wish to convey?

I am mulling thoughts about these topics yet again after eating by myself in several fine dining places (established places, but new to me) over the last few days. I had formal reservations for ONE (i.e. just myself) at all the restaurants, with bookings made online.

At all places I was seated promptly upon presenting myself [the reservation being noted at once], although at one place I suspect I was shunted to a 'marginal table'.

At place A (a high-end chain) I then waited for 10-15 min before a server even appeared table-side and he was hesitating before putting down water and bread + a veggie munchies plate. Another 5 minutes before the waiter came up to me with the menu and wine list. It also took a while for him to get back to me with my wine, but service was fine from then on.

At place B (a local place) I was seated with a menu furnished by the Maitre 'd and the waiter appeared tableside after 5-10 min, not as long as at place B. I had to ask for the wine list, however. Once I had made my orders, service was fine and the waiter was obliging.

At place C (a high-end famous local establishment, an "institution" of sorts) I waited for 5-10 minutes while watching newer arrivals (couples) being seated and furnished with menus and bread and water immediately. I watched the waiters passing a quick eye over me but ignoring me. I was indeed waiting to see what they would do so did not specifically call them over. A busboy whizzed by and placed two glasses of water on my table before I could stop him from putting the second glass down. Eventually a waiter finally walked over with the menu (and I muttered to him that I was wondering when they would decide to get round to me...perhaps with an edge to my voice). No wine list. I had to call him back and ask for it. Once he took my orders, however, service was fine.

In all three cases the cutlery for the other place at the table was left on the table, and it is probable in all three cases the waiters were "waiting" for my supposed companion to appear. I considered moving the "spare" cutlery to one side to signify that my table was complete (i.e. just me) but it seems to me that (i) the Maitre 'd or person who seated me should have been the one to do so [which indeed is done at some other places I've dined at], or (ii) the waitstaff should either be in better contact with the reservation desk/Maitre 'd, or should approach me much faster and at least ask if I would like something to drink while obliquely inquiring if I was waiting for a companion.

What are your experiences and how would you handle such situations?

  1. b
    bobbert Jan 31, 2011 05:39 AM

    This is why, when I'm alone, I will almost always eat at the bar - bartenders are used to this and the service tends to be better for the solo diner. My wife, on the other hand, would never sit alone at a bar to eat while away on business - so I shared this with her. First, whoever seats you should always pick up any "spare" cutlery, glasses, etc. The busboy, runners and often servers, are not usually privy to how many people are eating except by looking at the number of places set. This is their cue. If places are left set, this can lead to them believing that you are waiting for someone (maybe in the restroom?) and it would be rude to for them to go over the menu, take your drink order etc., until your DC arrived at the table.
    After that, the next problem with restaurants is that they absolutely hate 1 tops, from the owner to the servers. They just don't believe there's enough money to be made which leads to this oxymoron: Why does the restaurant drag it out? They should take care of the 1 top, serve them quickly (and always politely) and they will get out of there faster. They don't waste time "chatting" with anyone, although you can get the camper – my wife – who brings a book with her (although she’s good in that, if people are waiting, she tends to eat and run). Bottom line is you can take very good care of a 1 top and turn the table pretty fast. 1 top’s often (at least I do) tip out at a higher percentage, especially on a smaller tab. Why restaurants drag out service to people when they're dining alone always baffled me. They are the ones you can get through the fastest. Then there’s the chance that they’ll come back someday with a big group and drop lots of money.

    3 Replies
    1. re: bobbert
      k
      kmcarr Jan 31, 2011 08:16 AM

      As a single diner I find the notion of "serve them quickly...and they will get out of there faster" (no matter how politely) equally as ill-mannered as inattentive service.

      1. re: bobbert
        rockandroller1 Jan 31, 2011 08:43 AM

        If your wife wants to be more well received, she shouldn't camp at the table. People waiting want to eat, sure, but the server also wants the opportunity to continue to make money at their table, which you're preventing them from doing by camping. It's not a coffee shop, it's a restaurant. Eat and then leave. If you want to linger over your drink for a long time, be it alcoholic or non, sit at the bar.

        1. re: bobbert
          huiray Jan 31, 2011 10:08 AM

          Thanks for the comments. Yes, my experience as a single diner has been testy on many occasions too. I know I am not the only one, as your response confirms. I tend to agree that restaurants here seem to think single diners aren't bringing in enough money - it irritates me; not least because I have a generally healthy appetite and not infrequently order as much stuff as and sometimes even more stuff than what I can subsequently observe some other tables of two (or even three, on occasion) get for themselves, in monetary terms if not in absolute volume. As for "attending to 1 tops quickly etc", I agree - and wouldn't be insulted as long as it was clear that they were not rushing me. If they do, it is ill-mannered, as kmcarr says.

          The 'extra cutlery etc' I agree should have been picked up by the host/hostess/Maitre 'd (as meatn3 also says below; ditto Harters in an implied way - thanks, guys) - that would have immediately clarified the situation. I've found that this is done inconsistently in my experience - except that at various mid-level to modest places (including several Chinese restaurants - HEH!!) I go to it has ALWAYS been done IIRC. Shame on you, fine dining establishments!

          Yes, I do sit at the bar at restaurants too - although I prefer a table myself unless there is none available (e.g. if I "just turn up" without a reservation). [ However, I somewhat like sitting at the bar at Naha in Chicago. :-) ]

        2. h
          Harters Jan 31, 2011 07:25 AM

          Can't recall an occasion when I've been treated differently when alone than with others (except on a couple of occasions where I felt I had got particularly attentive service simply because I was on my own).

          Seems strange in my culture that singles would ever be treated less well than other customers - and , indeed, bobbert pretty much describes which should (and usually does) happen, in my experience..

          1. meatn3 Jan 31, 2011 07:34 AM

            Each of your situations seems to point to the staff watching and waiting for a dining companion to appear. If eye contact is made just let them know you are ready. As simple as a raised eyebrow and a gesture with your head and a smile!

            If the extra cutlery is not removed when you are seated you can be proactive by asking the Maitre'd, etc. to relay to your server that you would like to place a drink order before you look over the menu. Or whatever - just a way to nudge the process along.

            Yes, communication would be better in an ideal world, but I wouldn't hold my breath. :-)

            Another thought, as an ex-server I remember how awkward it could be when a single person was seated who was waiting for a date and ended up getting stood up. You didn't want to ignore them, yet you didn't want them feel pressured. You also (as it became clear what was happening) didn't want to add to their discomfort. It was awful watching someone who sparkled with anticipation moving step by step towards anger and/or disappointment. The server, as witness, often is on the receiving end of the emotional backlash.

            I guess the point I'm trying to make is that the residual of this type of experience may have some bearing on the staff initially watching and waiting before approaching a solo diner.

            1 Reply
            1. re: meatn3
              huiray Jan 31, 2011 10:13 AM

              Very good point about the 'aborted date'/'failed date'. I had not considered that at all. Thanks for the viewpoint.

              Yes, I should get the Maitre 'd/host/hostess involved, signal clearly to the server, etc - but I have a tendency to just sit back and see what they do, how they handle me, at places that I go to for the first time...a kind of test, if you will. If I then return, e.g. because the food was good and the subsequent service good etc etc, I will know what to do if they have not changed their ways.

            2. m
              Maximilien Jan 31, 2011 08:38 AM

              Me think the persons responsible (maitre d'hotel, wait staff, ... ) were not aware you were alone; in most cases, I always state that I'm alone when seated at a table.

              In general, I was always treated very well when going out "single" either seating at a table or at the bar; and that's for low/mid and high-end restaurants.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Maximilien
                mels Jan 31, 2011 09:15 AM

                I too have always been treated well when dining alone. I do some travel for business and I almost always opt to sit at the bar, however doing that as a female dining solo can sometimes attract unwanted attention from overly friendly patrons. Luckily that is not the norm but definitely happens. There have been only a handful of times I have sat at a table for 2 on my own but again I was treated well.

                1. re: Maximilien
                  huiray Jan 31, 2011 12:10 PM

                  ...except that when I made the reservations I had specified a party of one (just myself), and in fact at all three places I have mentioned the booking was made via OpenTable - so the notations that the reservation was for ONE diner would/should have been part of the screen info for any of the hosts/hostesses/Maitre'ds who received me and seated me. The waiters may not have been immediately aware of this, but the Maitre 'ds should have been.

                2. jfood Feb 1, 2011 06:34 PM

                  I have eaten 100s of meal alone on business and would say that 95+% of the time it is an extremely pleasant and professional experience. The other 5% has been the server havehis "solo diner syndrome leaving a bad tip" fulfilled. Add to the equation that I do not drink and you have the background.

                  The normal bad service includes:

                  - totally ignoring me
                  - not telling me the specials
                  - delivering the entree as soon as the appetizer is completed
                  - no bread while others received it
                  - no water refills
                  - table next to the bathroom

                  The result is always the same...reduction or zippo tippo and a quick chat with the MOD on the way out, if required. If deserved I give the MOD a 5-10 and ask him to give to the other staff who earned it.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: jfood
                    huiray Feb 1, 2011 11:37 PM

                    I've eaten by myself most of the time and have decades of experience in that regard. :-)

                    I get service ranging from excellent to poor. I would say for me the majority of times it has been fine to good, especially at places that know me, of course, but I also experience not-so-nice experiences as I described in my original post. It was, in fact, because I had three successive less-than-ideal experiences at relatively high-end places that prompted my post.

                    Yes, I've got the bad treatment you describe too.

                  2. babette feasts Feb 1, 2011 08:56 PM

                    I really can't say any experience dining alone stands out to me as being bad. I have had lots of GREAT fine dining experiences on my own. There is at least one restaurateur - Danny Meyer maybe?- known for always VIPing solo diners, and I agree that is the way it should be : ) I will admit that in my case, once I start chatting with the bartender or server and they find out that i am a pastry chef, the industry connection surely helps. A few years ago I went to NYC solo for a week of eating, sometimes I got a little lonely, but never felt snubbed or ignored and often got extras. At TRU in Chicago I got to meet Gale Gand who took me on a tour of the kitchen. At Aquavit in NY they sent me an extra dessert.

                    Dress well and plan to have a good time. Order everything that looks delicious and don't apologize for being just one. I think to an extent that people who are looking for slights will find them, and people who want to enjoy life will do so.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: babette feasts
                      huiray Feb 1, 2011 11:46 PM

                      Lucky you, the insider.

                      "Dress well and plan to have a good time. Order everything that looks delicious and don't apologize for being just one. I think to an extent that people who are looking for slights will find them, and people who want to enjoy life will do so."
                      ------
                      I doubt that any reasonable person sets out to do otherwise when dining out...

                      The 'dress well' part is an interesting subtopic in itself - what is meant by the phrase, where it applies, what "standards" are applied by whom, who has the right to dictate what is "approved attire", how many items of "approved attire" must one wear to "pass muster" and what gives a person the right to make that call...and so on... :-)

                      1. re: huiray
                        babette feasts Feb 2, 2011 05:01 AM

                        Youre right that is a given and I don't mean to open that can of worms. I just meant dress so you feel good about yourself to whatever level you enjoy and will convey to the restaurant that you understand what their mission is and are serious about enjoying their food. I wonder if servers pick up on anxiety about being alone. Maybe attitude is more important than dress per se.

                        1. re: babette feasts
                          babette feasts Feb 2, 2011 05:52 AM

                          Just about any place you call and ask about a dress code will say "busines casual". A vague term in itself, but these are vague times.

                          Maybe I just don't assume it is anything personal if I get bad service - I don't analyze it for why the server treats me differently, I just figure the server is not very good at their job. Maybe I care less about service and don't have a bad time unless the food is disappointing. Maybe I just show more cleavage. Flaunt your assets enough, and your water glass will ALWAYS be full!

                          1. re: babette feasts
                            huiray Feb 2, 2011 09:44 AM

                            Heh. :-)

                      2. re: babette feasts
                        Delucacheesemonger Mar 6, 2011 05:35 AM

                        Thomas Keller always gives a VIP to a single at the French Laundry.

                      3. thew Feb 2, 2011 06:07 AM

                        i eat alone often - in places from low end to high. i would say that i have pretty much always had fine service. just be clear that you're alone, that it doesn't mean you are a loser, and that you know and enjoy your food. then its usually smooth sailing

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: thew
                          Naguere Mar 5, 2011 04:38 AM

                          Cycle touring in France every year, I usually take lunch at a 'Routier' about three times a week.
                          Working men come in in groups and claim a table, but there us always a large table to put single diners at.
                          Wine is usually included and mostly a working Frenchman will only have one glass of wine.
                          Being English and a velo i am surprised how much good wine I can have (and cycle the last 30km to my camp site.)

                          Then there are the other places, when you wonder why you are at a tiny table for one situated next to the pissoire. You must be firm and insist on being moved.

                           
                          1. re: Naguere
                            h
                            Harters Mar 5, 2011 04:57 AM

                            I'll look out for the wobbly Brit on a bike when I'm over next month.

                            1. re: Naguere
                              huiray Mar 7, 2011 12:10 PM

                              Heh. Did you get moved?

                          2. e
                            escondido123 Mar 6, 2011 03:09 PM

                            Dining alone I like to sit at the bar or a communal table most times, since I enjoy talking with other people. My husband and I were staying at a very fancy chateau in France--oh for the good old days--and of course were eating at its crystal and porcelain restaurant. We ordered a wonderful meal but as the first course was served my husband realized he was going to be sick and left the restaurant. I checked on him and he said he was fine to just enjoy the meal. When I came back I told the waiter my husband was "mal" which I thought meant sick, but it meant "bad" to the waiter. Within moments his half of the table was cleared away and I was treated like a princess for the rest of the meal.

                            1. Disneyfreak Mar 6, 2011 05:17 PM

                              I've eaten alone on a few business trips and once I got over my worry about being a female alone I found that I was treated fine. I've had lovely conversations with servers -- when they weren't busy. One even brought me a small portion of a dessert when I mentioned that I would have loved it, but I was too full and my per diem was stretched to the max. I've never been treated poorly, but I wasn't looking for signs of neglect - ie leaving me alone too long or not removing the other silverware from the table right away.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: Disneyfreak
                                huiray Mar 7, 2011 12:09 PM

                                It seems to be a commonality amongst all the identifiably female responders here that they report pleasant experiences when dining solo, with attention paid to them. Interesting, no? ;-)

                                Thanks for the responses.

                                Disneyfreak, 'not looking' for signs of neglect does not mean that it could not occur, but it seems that it did not happen to you anyway and I am glad that you always had pleasant experiences.

                                1. re: huiray
                                  thew Mar 7, 2011 03:09 PM

                                  it seems the males have also been treated well......., interesting? no

                                  1. re: thew
                                    huiray Mar 8, 2011 07:03 AM

                                    Of course they have been except when they were not - as some male posters other than myself HAVE said. :-) OTOH, the female posters here don't seem to talk about negative experiences...unless I missed it... ;-)

                                  2. re: huiray
                                    Disneyfreak Mar 8, 2011 07:58 AM

                                    I just meant that nothing happened that was so blatant that I took note of it. Perhaps I might have been left waiting for my menu but it was never so long that I thought "Oh I'm by myself and therefore they are ignoring me." Not having been at these locations with other folks I have no way of comparing my treatment to that of folks in couples or groups.

                                    1. re: Disneyfreak
                                      huiray Mar 8, 2011 12:37 PM

                                      Aha. I see, thanks.

                                2. g
                                  gryphonskeeper Mar 7, 2011 03:56 PM

                                  To be honest most of my dining experiences while a solo diner I was treated like a Leper! Sometimes I was completely ignored, or asked if I wanted to "sit at the bar" WHY is it assumed someone who does not have a dining companion wants to booze it up at the bar? Do they think we must be miserable? I am a bartender, I spend enough time at the bar, let me have a seat by the fireplace.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: gryphonskeeper
                                    bagelman01 Mar 7, 2011 06:52 PM

                                    I don't belive it's assumed a solo wants to dine at the bar, just that it makes business sense to seat a solo in an individual seat, not a table made for two or more. I can't count the number of times I've come down to breakfast when traveling on business, and the hotel coffee shop wil direc t solo diners to the counter, not tables.

                                    Years ago, many restaurants that had both counters and tables/booths had signs stating that solo diners would only be seated at the counter.

                                    1. re: bagelman01
                                      huiray Mar 8, 2011 12:45 PM

                                      Yet it need not be so, several responders here have said that they were treated exceptionally well at least in SOME establishments; while as I noted above I have myself often ordered more food or more high-value food than another table of two or even three within sight of me.

                                      gryphonskeeper, I feel your pain. There have been a few occasions in some places where I have insisted on sitting at a table somewhere within the main dining area and, yes, close to the fireplace or the equivalent in terms of a "soothing locus". :-)

                                  2. KarenDW Mar 7, 2011 11:47 PM

                                    Some establishments are more comfortable with a woman dining alone than others. Sometimes I will sit at the bar, other times I will take a table. I've never been in a situation where "spare" cutlery or glassware was left on the table.
                                    My most recent solo dining experience was in Sydney, Aus. I had an opportunity to visit a popular suburban restaurant, and was a walk-in. The (female) maitre d/MOD seated me right away, at a table of my choosing. When I asked my server about the possibility a tasting menu, the maitre d' answered my questions. When I asked about wine pairings, I was poured a taster of the five wines suggested for my entree. The party at the table next to me was so intrigued, we started to converse, and I was provided recommendations for my onward travel :) When I moved to the lounge for coffee and port, the maitre d' stopped by to check that I was comfortable and not "bothered" by anyone.
                                    In four weeks of traveling, my dinner at Moncur Terrace remains a standout.

                                    1. c
                                      cstr Mar 8, 2011 07:47 AM

                                      Being a road warrior, I've dined alone for many years, I find the best place to sit for great service especially at the higher end places, is at the bar.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: cstr
                                        m
                                        MonMauler Mar 8, 2011 08:24 AM

                                        I, too, travel often and dine alone. Actually, I dine out alone a lot in my hometown, as well. And I couldn't agree more: I get the absolute best service, when dining alone, at the bar.

                                        1. re: MonMauler
                                          jfood Mar 9, 2011 05:36 AM

                                          100's of solo dining on the road as well and i normally receive great service at the bar. since i do not drink alcohol or soda i have experienced lesser serveice when i order my glass of water when i sit down. i deal with it and see if the service is up to par but i am there for my book, my food, my trelaxation and my down time. and i tip according to service for the food received and the price of the food received not for some "should have" ordered amount

                                          there are times when i want to sit at a table and if available i have just as much a right to that table as the couple behind me. and my service and tip standards do not change if i am sitting at a table. server is good s/he gets the appropriate tip, gives me less than required service then the tip is dinged. i do not tip higher based on the fact that my companion is a book who has decided not to order any food.

                                      2. Jetgirly Mar 8, 2011 06:02 PM

                                        I don't eat out alone in my hometown, but I travel a lot and will often eat out alone (I'd say I ate at least eighty meals alone last summer). I've always been treated really, really well, but that being said I've always learned how to say "I'm a vegetarian" and "I'll have anything that doesn't have meat" in the local language, and I find that often restaurant staff are keen to show off for a twenty-something girl, traveling alone, attempting to speak the local language and not being fussy. However, I also find that in areas where young solo female travelers are an anomaly I tend to receive unwanted or excessive personal attention, invitations and touches from male restaurant staff. That is definitely a waaaay bigger pet peeve than being ignored (which I don't think has ever happened).

                                        1. 9
                                          9lives Apr 13, 2011 03:30 PM

                                          I rarely eat out at home but when I was starting my career I travellled for biz more and often ate alone.

                                          2 experiences stand out and I will name names. I booked a table at Postrio in SF..this is many years ago and it was a hot restaurant. They seated me at a great 2 top and properly cleared the other plates and silverware. When I told the waiter I was torn between 2 dishes, he suggested that he make 1/2 portions of each and serve the past as an app and the other as an entree. What a great suggestion, great meal, and I tipped accordingly.

                                          Slightly different scenario, same restaurant and I showed up late with my gffriend. They offered 1 menu in bar and another in the restaurant. Restaurant was booked and we ate in the bar. I explained to the waitress that we'd just flown in and how much I enjoyed certain dishes the last time..and they weren't on the bar menu. She asked me to let her check with the chef..came back and said order whatever you like...from either menu.

                                          I am NOT known to the house but it made me a fan of Puck. As I said, it's a few years ago and maybe he no longer does this; but those 2 meals sold me. For all I know, the place isn't even worth going anymore; but this was hospitality at it it's best.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: 9lives
                                            512window Jun 16, 2011 03:55 PM

                                            Actually, I ate at Postrio earlier this week, and received magnificent service. It wasn't a solo experience so not as relevant to this topic. We had never been there before.

                                            My sister and I were having dinner before the theater and my daughter was joining us, but stuck on public transportation from the east Bay. Sis and I decided to split a salad to start - they brought it out on separate plates. When my daughter arrived the waiter was right there with the menu, took her order, got the kitchen to expedite, and she finished with us and had enough time for dessert. He really went above and beyond.

                                            So, come back and try it again!

                                          2. m
                                            marius Jun 10, 2011 05:30 PM

                                            I typically will only have a meal alone during off-peak hours, but too often the service is rude and/or dismissive when I dine alone. Today I had lunch around 2 p.m. in a small, independent restaurant on Cape Cod. There were only 2 other parties in the place, leaving about 18 empty, clean tables and 4+ staffers on the floor. Still, the hostess was taken aback that I requested a booth rather than a wooden table (the tables and booths each hold 4, so it wasn't a space issue). It took 10 minutes to get a menu, the waitress barely spoke to me, I had to leave the table to check out the specials board, and I silently vowed to never return! :) (This restaurant doesn't have a liquor license but they do have a counter and the hostess also tried to get me to sit there--it was empty--and I refused.) My health club is right behind this place so I am aware of when they're slow and I deliberately went there after a workout, expecting to have a relaxing experience but when the hostess couldn't force me to sit on a hard wooden stool or chair she stuck me right next to the door. Needless to say, it was stressful. The food was good but I felt very unwelcome. The waitress did nothing to make me feel welcome. I've been in there with other people before and experienced good service so this was odd.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: marius
                                              Niblet Jun 16, 2011 01:20 PM

                                              I'd bet the other 2 tables didn't get great service, either. If the waitstaff is socializing during downtime chances are the service wouldn't have been any better even if you had a companion. Additionally with the dining room virtually empty you were likely not readily visible in the booth so it was an out-of-sight, out-of-mind thing.

                                            2. Bill Hunt Jun 15, 2011 08:36 PM

                                              I often dine alone, as my wife is having dinners at meetings, or related to events.

                                              I normally choose fine-dining restaurants, and have never had one issue.

                                              At one lovely French restaurant in Washington, DC, I had dined there maybe 5 times, before my wife was able to join me. When she did, the entire kitchen and dining room staff lined up, and greeted her.

                                              In my many years, I cannot recall any restaurant, that treated me less, than a party of 8.

                                              Hunt

                                              12 Replies
                                              1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                huiray Jun 16, 2011 09:19 AM

                                                I suspect your experiences might also reflect your status as a well-known diner and world traveler, known to high-end restaurants far and wide, with expense accounts and heavy-hitting credit cards to match? :-) Your wife's eventual reception by the staff of that restaurant you mention seems to fit into this pattern, the processional entrance of the consort of dining royalty... ;-)

                                                I say all this with a light smile on my face.

                                                1. re: huiray
                                                  Bill Hunt Jun 16, 2011 06:53 PM

                                                  I kind of doubt that, as many of those solo experiences are at restaurants, that I have never visited before.

                                                  As for that DC restaurant, I feel that the staff had just grown very tired of me, and prayed that my "better-half," was really MUCH better, and they could enjoy HER company, and not have to deal with me so much?

                                                  As for me, I cannot believe that I would be a "special patron," as I look like Nick Nolte's mug shot: http://www.thesmokinggun.com/mugshots..., however I almost always wear a blazer, am highly critical of the food, the service and the wines. I just do not get it. Maybe I just frequent restaurants that have a very good policy with regards to solo diners, male or female.

                                                  Could be something else, that I am just unaware of too? [Add quizzical look to my face

                                                  ]

                                                  Hunt

                                                  1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                    huiray Jun 17, 2011 07:24 AM

                                                    Nick Nolte? Ah, maybe they're afraid you might beat them up if they don't attend to you punctiliously! <big grin>

                                                    1. re: huiray
                                                      Bill Hunt Jun 17, 2011 07:42 PM

                                                      Could well be. Also, many have told me that I look like Glenn Campbell: http://www.thesmokinggun.com/mugshots...

                                                      Now, I was at the country club that day, but did not play in that foursome, nor did I hang for too long in the Men's Grill, so cannot comment on what happened a bit later in the afternoon.

                                                      Still, I can say that I am neither Nick Nolte, nor Glenn Campbell, but obviously there ARE striking resemblances, and maybe the bartenders, and servers pick up on that?

                                                      Still, I have tried to recall any time, where I got less than excellent service as a solo. The closest that I can come was an evening at the Ritz-Carlton in NOLA, when my wife was not flying in, until about Midnight. The service was very rushed, though the restaurant was almost empty. The courses all came at once, and the wines, not until later. Still, looking around, it appeared that all were being subjected to that level of service, so do not feel that it was because I was a solo. I talked to a couple, seated just behind me, and we had experienced the same fragmented service - not just me.

                                                      Now, maybe the staff notices that I take out my notebook, and ask for the correct spelling of each server's name, plus the name of the chef that night, and other little tid-bits, and take tons of notes... ?

                                                      While I am always more ready to dine with friends, guests, family, or almost anyone, when having to do solo, I have never had any real issues, that I could attribute to the solo dining.

                                                      Hunt

                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                        j
                                                        James Cristinian Jun 19, 2011 12:43 PM

                                                        Not sure why, but I always pictured you as more of a Currado "Uncle Junior" Soprano. Mobsters always get the good tables and service.

                                                        1. re: James Cristinian
                                                          Bill Hunt Jun 20, 2011 08:34 PM

                                                          Well, looking at myself in the mirror, I would probably not think of any character in "The Soprano's," but then I have only seen a few episodes.

                                                          Now, maybe if one was talking about the "Our Man Flint" series of movies, but without the winning smile (never have had a winning smile, even with Photoshop), then there might be a tie?

                                                          Now, if I could only get the good hotel rooms, like my wife does (when I am not with her). She has to do about 4 Las Vegas meetings per year, and will call me from the penthouse suite with two hot-tubs, but when I go, we get a broom closet, even in hotels, where I am a Diamond VIP. Does not make sense to me, but obviously, the front desk folk take an immediate dislike to ME.

                                                          Now, tables at a restaurant, and I make out like a bandit.

                                                          Go figure...

                                                          Hunt

                                                          1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                            j
                                                            josephnl Aug 18, 2011 03:15 PM

                                                            I agree completely. I don't think I've ever been treated less well when I've dined alone. I'm now retired, but when I was working I traveled quite a bit both in the US and in Europe. I always sought out the best restaurants, and have had many wonderful meals alone. Just last night I had dinner at Le Cirque in Las Vegas by myself (my other half is on a business trip), and I could not have been treated better...perfect table, superb service, and a geat meal. The only problem I have occasionally run into is the reluctance of a very few restaurants to make a reservation for a party of 1. Indeed, I am having dinner by myself at Bouchon in LV tonight, and was unable to make a res for 1 on Open Table...when I punched in party of 2 there was no problem. I made the reservation for 2, and called the restaurant and told them I'd be dining alone. No problem! I might wind up choosing to sit at their seafood bar anyway.

                                                            1. re: josephnl
                                                              Bill Hunt Aug 18, 2011 06:35 PM

                                                              To date, I have not encountered that, but might expect to. As Open Table only has a sub-set of the available tables, and sometimes a small sub-set, if I need something else, I just call.

                                                              For about the fifth time in 3 months, I am dining at Farallon in San Francisco, and unfortunately solo, as wife is in meetings with a meal. This might be anything BUT objective, as I and we, dine there often, but other than inquiring on how my lovely wife is doing (think they would rather have HER solo, than me, but that is besides the point), they treat me great. Same for Compton Place in San Francisco, where we will both be dining, but I have done them solo with great service too.

                                                              I cannot think of any solo dining experience, that was less, than it would have been, should I have been a party of two, other than that I'd always rather dine WITH my wife, than without her - but life is what it is, and I just had her company for 9 days, so cannot be too greedy.

                                                              Enjoy. While I have not done those two LV restaurants, I have heard great things.

                                                              Hunt

                                                              1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                j
                                                                josephnl Aug 18, 2011 10:23 PM

                                                                Had a terrific meal by myself at the bar at Bouchon. Very standard but excellent bistro fare...great oysters, sole amandine, and house-made sorbet. Wonderful bread, cocktails, wines by the glass and excellent service. I like this Bouchon better than the one in the Napa Valley. Much prettier and more comfortable.

                                                                1. re: josephnl
                                                                  Bill Hunt Aug 24, 2011 08:51 PM

                                                                  I just did Farallon (San Francisco) solo, on Monday night. Earlier in the month, I did them with my wife. Other than everyone coming up to the table, and telling me how much they missed my wife, all was great.

                                                                  Going back a trip, I did Campton Place solo, with great results, but did them again, with my wife. Again, the entire staff came to the table, and told her how much more they enjoyed her, than me solo - but I can live with that! [Grin]

                                                                  A good restaurant will not make a differentiation, between a solo diner, and a party of two - or should not.

                                                                  Hunt

                                                                  1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                    j
                                                                    josephnl Aug 24, 2011 10:11 PM

                                                                    Absolutely agree. Indeed at some very top restaurants (Le Cirque in Las Vegas, Cafe Boulud in NYC immediately come to mind), sometimes I think they are even more attentive when I dine alone. Perhaps when one dines alone, the staff are less concerned about being too intrusive.

                                                                    1. re: josephnl
                                                                      Bill Hunt Aug 25, 2011 10:20 PM

                                                                      I have never had any issue, and do solo all too often. Now, I do admit that they seem to really love it, when my wife can join me, on the next trip, but I completely understand that. Just happened at Campton Place, SF, CA, where I had just done solo the week before. With her, they stood at attention, and greeted her. Opposite at Farallon, SF, CA, where we had dined together the week before, but now I was solo. They all asked about my lovely wife. Oh well, they did not diss me, so what do I have to worry about?

                                                                      Hunt

                                              2. greygarious Jun 16, 2011 03:41 PM

                                                Just a slight digression to recommend frequent single diners rent the Steve Martin comedy, "The Lonely Guy", which has a very funny send-up of the solo dining experience.

                                                Personally, I have often dined out alone and can only recall two instances of REALLY poor service. In one instance it appeared the place was short-staffed so every order was delayed.
                                                The other time was a nearly-empty hotel dining room in which there was no excuse for the incredible disappearing waiter. There wasn't even any other staff in sight to ask to remind him he had a customer. At the end of the meal it took forever to get the check, after which I was again abandoned in an empty dining room. I was sorely tempted to walk out without paying, but left exact change - no tip - on the table. .

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