You're alone in a strange place...
Would you ever consider inviting a stranger to dinner out?
I was having an interesting conversation with someone the other night, and this question came up. Here's the scenario:
You travel a lot on business and often find yourself walking around town late in the afternoon following a day of meetings with people you don't know. You're mind is on finding a good restaurant, but you wish you didn't have to dine alone so often. You spot a pleasant looking couple that are obviously tourists and you consider going up and asking if they'd like to join you at the steak house across the street. You offer to treat them to the meal, naturally.
Would you be so daring? Or would you be afraid that they would think you were a freak of nature?
What would you do if you were the couple? Would you assume it's some kind of scam and run the other way, or see it as a chance to meet a nice person and have a good meal?
I think I'd be kinda nervous, as the female half of the couple, if a stranger appeared and offered us dinner, but less so if we'd been in a bar and had been talking for the best part of an hour or so - that might not feel so weird.
I can't tell by just looking at someone whether I'd want to spend 90 minutes talking to him or her. So I'd neither offer nor accept an invitation-as-introduction. But as smartie says, if it were someone I already "knew" from the bar, sure, why not?
I have had meals and have even been invited to stay over with people out of town that I met not long before. During a train strike in France I struck up a conversation with a couple of waiting passengers and I wound up not only taking one out to dinner but staying over as well.
Also I have had meals with out-of-town Chowhounds who I had never met before.
I have had meals with total strangers at crowded downtown lunch places where table sharing is essential, and I have had meals at communal tables where that is a given as well.
But I am not interested in having meals with total strangers for simply the companionship.
After spending the day in meetings with people I don't know, the last thing I would want to do is spend my dinner time with more people I don't know. I think I'd take my book (novel, magazine, whatever - that is a requirement for traveling), pick up something yummy and eat in a park if it's nice out, or go to a warm cozy quiet restaurant and curl up in a booth with my book and my dinner.