HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >

Making New Friends When Dining

n
NicoleFriedman May 30, 2011 07:25 AM

This does not happen to me all the time. I am starting this topic because we ended up making friends with a couple seated next to us in a fancy Italian restaurant in the North End. I went to the bathroom. When I came back my hubby and the other man [Mike] were chatting it up. We all returned to eating. When their check came, we started talking again....ended up exchanging numbers....we all ended up spending the last day of our vacation together.
To be a bit more clear, both my hubby and I are very gregarious people. That being said, I hope you don't get the impression that we are intruding into private conversations when we go to 5 star restaurants. I think of it this way; people give off more body language than verbal. My hubby and myself, Linda and Mike [the other couple] picked up from each other that we were open to conversation. In short, they're now coming to visit us next month in the city.
Has this happened to anyone else? Or has anyone found love this way? :}

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. e
    escondido123 RE: NicoleFriedman May 30, 2011 07:54 AM

    We had the same thing happen to us many years ago in Venice at a casual wine bar. Ended up spending the evening with the other couple but it was just a one night thing. We also once stayed at a farmhouse in France that also served dinner. The service was very strange and disjointed so we ended up talking to a French couple and having some good laughs. We invited them to have some cognac with us after dinner--they suggested we offer a glass to the couple that owned the place, they accepted and then left us the key to the restaurant, telling us to lock up and drop it in the mail slot when we were done. Stayed up a little too late but had a great time. No romance involved though.

    2 Replies
    1. re: escondido123
      Monica RE: escondido123 May 31, 2011 01:39 PM

      Years ago, before i got married to my husband, we went to Paris together. we were dining and we started to chat with this Japanese lady who was there with her boss on a business trip.
      Since then we became good friends...we went to visit her in Osaka where she is from and gave us a wonderful tour of Osaka and Kyoto.

      1. re: escondido123
        n
        NicoleFriedman RE: escondido123 May 31, 2011 06:31 PM

        We had the same problem with service; that definitely may have contributed to this situation. Great food but slow as s**t:}

      2. f
        fourunder RE: NicoleFriedman May 30, 2011 08:08 AM

        I was dining in a restaurant many years ago with my father when his health was in decline, but even though he had no appetite, he had longed for some dishes served at this restaurant, so the two of us were there. with 10 or so items ordered for the two of us. Adjacent to us were an elderly couple who were looking over at the amount of food ordered and innocently mentioned we must be very hungry, or celebrating something important.......I indicated it was the latter. They also said that the food looked very interesting and asked what each dish was.......I don't recall what the dishes were, but I'm sure I gave them the dishes names and they thanked me, saying they never knew what to order whenever they came to the restaurant......after a couple of minutes, I could see them still peering over at the table and the food, so I said they had to try the dishes and invited them over to our table and insisted they had to help us eat the food. They accepted, and we had a very pleasant meal and conversation together.....all while my father was visibly and obviously in discomfort. They thanked me and insisted they would like to return the favor and take us out to dinner on another evening. We said that was not necessary, but they insisted we accept, otherwise they would feel terrible for intruding......so we accepted and met out another night, and also few more times afterwards. This relationship lasted for six months until my father could no longer go out to eat due to his health. About a year after my father's passing, I entered another restaurant and the couple saw me (first), and invited me to join them. I accepted, they asked about my dad and I told them he had passed peacefully at home with his family beside him. They gave me condolences and we shared some nice stories. At the end of the meal, they graciously said they were surprised by my gesture to originally invite them to our table and share dinner with complete strangers.....they were truly thankful for having the opportunity to meet me and my father........but really, it was I , who was thankful that they accepted and befriended me and my father to make our difficult times more comforting.

        8 Replies
        1. re: fourunder
          mariacarmen RE: fourunder May 31, 2011 08:59 PM

          that is such a sweet story fourunder.... thanks for it.

          1. re: mariacarmen
            f
            fourunder RE: mariacarmen Jun 1, 2011 08:40 AM

            mariacarmen,

            thanks for the kind words.....I'll admit it brought a tear to my eyes when I wrote.it.....

            1. re: fourunder
              Monica RE: fourunder Jun 1, 2011 08:50 AM

              I too enjoyed your story and I thank you for that.
              Your father was a true foodie.

              1. re: Monica
                f
                fourunder RE: Monica Jun 1, 2011 08:58 AM

                Monica,

                thanks for the kind words as well...My father owned four restaurants, all four running for over 20 years each....one for over 40 years.

          2. re: fourunder
            l
            liveloveat34 RE: fourunder Jun 1, 2011 11:26 AM

            thank you so much for sharing your story. i was deeply touched by it

            1. re: liveloveat34
              f
              fourunder RE: liveloveat34 Jun 1, 2011 11:35 AM

              thanks...:o)

            2. re: fourunder
              Niblet RE: fourunder Jun 1, 2011 12:34 PM

              I didn't expect to tear up like that, thank you for sharing that wonderful story fourunder.

              1. re: Niblet
                f
                fourunder RE: Niblet Jun 1, 2011 08:17 PM

                thanks....:0)

                Maybe I should submit to Reader's Digest......:0)

            3. meatn3 RE: NicoleFriedman May 30, 2011 04:18 PM

              Year ago my ex and I were at a lobster pier in Maine. Table space was scarce and somehow we ended up sharing a table with another couple. The conversation was great and there were a lot of mutual interests. They invited us to their campsite for s'mores later that evening.

              We ended up staying in touch for many years. We visited them when we were in their city for business. We joined them in the Keys on vacation too. It was a wonderful serendipitous meeting!

              Over the years they split up and we split up - all amicably. But the changes in partners and new directions resulted in the friendship slipping away.

              1. i
                Isolda RE: NicoleFriedman May 30, 2011 04:38 PM

                Does eating hot dogs in the bleachers at Fenway Park count? 'Cause that's how I met my husband 22 years ago.

                We have met other families in restaurants and pubs a few times and had additional meals together, but none of the friendships were lasting, mainly due to geography.

                1. l
                  lemons RE: NicoleFriedman May 30, 2011 06:12 PM

                  Not a long acquaintance, but a happy memory: Paris, spring, my first night in town, a solo dinner at an outside table at a bistro in the 4th, a nice little place that served good food AND was right on the Seine. At the next table on one side of me was an American actor who was visiting a friend who lived in Paris. We got started talking. The conversation was then picked up by a gentleman on my other side who was Swedish. Pleasant evening, broke up, Swede said how about a walk and a drink. So I said yes. Lovely walk, nice drink. He was an observer at the disarmament talks then going on and quite interesting.

                  No, Nothing Happened. He walked me back to my nearby hotel and said if he didn't have to leave town the next day, he'd call and we'd have dinner. He didn't, and that was fine. It was just a lovely interlude like something out of a film.

                  1. Candy RE: NicoleFriedman May 31, 2011 12:47 PM

                    It happens to us frequently. It is always a pleasure.

                    1. mucho gordo RE: NicoleFriedman May 31, 2011 01:24 PM

                      About 22 years ago, Mrs. G and I were on a Panama Canal cruise. The dining room was 'open seating' and we sat at a table with two other couples, one of whom was a retired fire chief, and his wife, from Chicago. We all got along so well we kept the same arrangement throughout the cruise. Both couples were quite a bit older than we were and we really had nothing in common except for a great sense of humor. The weird thing was that both couples, especially the fire chief, were in awe of the prodigious amount of food I was able to consume at one sitting. We kept in touch for a short while after the cruise but no lasting friendship resulted.

                      1. mariacarmen RE: NicoleFriedman May 31, 2011 08:54 PM

                        This happened to us in the south of France - Arles, to be exact. Eating at a pseudo Mexican restaurant, we sat next to a delightful lesbian couple, one English, the other French, and we chatted with them throughout dinner, mostly about the food and the restaurant to begin with (a favorite of theirs, and they knew the owner) and then on to a myriad of topics. and then they astoundingly invited us to come back (we were staying in Marseille, visiting Arles on a day trip) and stay with them for a weekend! We did, and were treated like absolute royalty. I remember it being a rainy weekend and yet our hostess proceeded unfazed with her bbq plans. They took us to see the horses of Camargue.... it was just a magical weekend. We only got to see them for that short time, tho we did invite them to visit when we were staying in Italy for the next 5 months (they couldn't make it). and we've given them an open-ended invite to stay with us if ever they make it to the States. We keep in touch, not regularly (this was 6 years ago), but the offer is still there. It was something i never expected to happen, but I'm so glad we started talking to them.

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: mariacarmen
                          f
                          FoodExpression RE: mariacarmen Jun 1, 2011 09:03 AM

                          This dynamic that occurs when traveling is certainly interesting. There is something great about going to another country and meeting new people and trying new things. What is about being on vacation that people become more open and friendly. Is it because they arent used to the customes and are willing to go along with whatever just to see how the other culture lives?

                          I wish more and more restaurants in the states were oriented in a way that encouraged communal tables. In Italy I remember going to this restaurant in the Sant Abroeus where the tables are communal...and you just tell the waiter what you had and pay accordingly. Its unfortunate that something like this would never work out here because everyone in the US wants something without salt or fat or meat or dairy or doesnt like cilantro.....ugh..

                          1. re: FoodExpression
                            e
                            escondido123 RE: FoodExpression Jun 1, 2011 09:06 AM

                            There are communal tables in the US and I understand they do quite well at some places. It is not communal service though, where everyone eats the same thing. I have been to restaurants where a group can order the family style meal but I'm unfamiliar with communal service. How did that work at the restaurant in Italy?

                            1. re: escondido123
                              f
                              FoodExpression RE: escondido123 Jun 1, 2011 09:09 AM

                              Well I think that it wasnt that everyone ordered the same thing...it was just that you had the meat or the fish.

                              1. re: escondido123
                                greygarious RE: escondido123 Jun 1, 2011 11:21 AM

                                Sadly, they since built a modern restaurant with typical dining room in another building, but the Shaker Village in Canterbury, NH, used to have its restaurant in what had been the creamery building (where the butter was made). Seating at The Creamery was at long, narrow, communal tables with stool-like short-backed chairs, which I think were authentic Shaker-made. (They looked uncomfortable but actually provided a lot of back support although they were short enough to be pushed entirely under the tables, a clever Shaker innovation to make between-meal sweeping more efficient.) You ordered off a menu that had many delicious choices, but sitting among strangers encouraged conversation, which was always pleasant. People tended to linger over dessert and coffee, once they realized the seating was comfortable. Always a memorable, pleasant meal.

                              2. re: FoodExpression
                                f
                                fourunder RE: FoodExpression Jun 1, 2011 09:10 AM

                                Dominick's on Arthur Avenue is just like you have described.......old school Italian without menus.....the only problem is this. You can go and have the exact same thing ordered for the table every time, but the price you pay at the end is never the same.

                                I agree the US customer is too finicky and has too many phobias when it come to food.

                                1. re: fourunder
                                  f
                                  FoodExpression RE: fourunder Jun 2, 2011 04:37 AM

                                  I am def familiar with Dominicks as I went to Fordham U right around the corner. Place is great only prob is that its one of a milliion. Also I agree, they serve the same thing over and over so it can get a bit boring. Hey...hopefully when their younger generation takes over they willl step up their game!

                                2. re: FoodExpression
                                  e
                                  escondido123 RE: FoodExpression Jun 1, 2011 04:14 PM

                                  I think it would work for some and in fact does in some places. There is a website grubwith.us that gets people together "Grubwithus builds friendships over good food at restaurants all over the city. We only work with good, quality restaurants that agree to offer family-style meals to our community. Basically, we help you eat good food while meeting new people." Sounds cool and it is in cities on both coasts.

                                  1. re: FoodExpression
                                    mariacarmen RE: FoodExpression Jun 1, 2011 07:30 PM

                                    It's true, FoodExpression, that we were on vacation, (well, we were actually traveling for 9 months out of the States and my BF worked for part of it) and probably in a festive, more open mood than usual (we're not normally unfriendly in the least, but do usually keep to ourselves), but the lovely couple who befriended us were locals, and lived very close to the restaurant. There was just something special that night.... i don't know what it was, but I'm so glad it happened.

                                Show Hidden Posts