This feels like a Michael Bauer blog post. Postulate on dining-related question to elicit reader feedback..... I was in Boulder, Colorado this weekend and wound up dining alone at Jax, the home of Top Chef winner Hosea Rosenberg (I'll post specifically about the meal later). As I sat at the bar I met some really cool people dropping their son off for college. I had fun getting to know them (and ultimately a few others as the conversation grew and the drinks flowed) and chomping down a lovely Cioppino. It got me thinking about the other times that I've dined alone and how I really feel about the experience.
There are many occasions where I simply do not prefer dining alone, not necessarily because of the solitude, but more because of the limitation on ordering. Tonight I have to be in the East Bay and thought about popping in to Pizzaiolo after my appointment. But the thought of it leaves me less than excited, because I don't think I could choose one dish and be content. Pizzaiolo, like many of my current favorite places, is best appreciated family style.
Many menus are designed to complement themselves and there is an art to crafting the experience through ordering (oooh that sounds like a juicy post unto itself). Sauntering up to the bar and ordering a pizza or pasta may be plenty satisfying, but I would definitely long for a salad, meatballs or whatever other treats I could order with abandon in a group.
I suppose this is another reason why the current street food movement is appealing. One dish (or a very simply menu), easy to order and consume in solitude without feeling like you're shorting the experience. In fact, you are embracing the experience. It's designed for the solo diner to grab something special, share in a atmosphere and never feel like something was left out.
What do you think? And where would you recommend I go in the East Bay for a solo meal?