Take Yourself on a Date

I remember the first time I took myself out for a fabulous dinner. I was traveling on business, running a program for Relais & Chateaux called L’Ecole des Chefs, which was essentially a space camp for foodies, who paid thousands of dollars to be a stagiaire in a world-famous restaurant kitchen*. 

One of my favorite restaurants in the program, Léon de Lyon, was along my travel route through France, and I couldn’t resist an evening in a Michelin-starred restaurant.

My 30-year-old self hadn’t spent much time dining alone at this level. As my life was in the culinary industry, I was usually in a group or at an event when it came to fine dining. 

Imagine my surprise when I was placed directly in the center of the dining room, on full display. 

At first I was mortified, because my introverted self wanted to keep a low profile in the back corner of the room. However, when in France, one makes the most of it, so I tried to focus on enjoying the pomp and circumstance of it all. As their staff offers an exquisite level of service, I was treated like a queen, and took the opportunity to really enjoy that.

Dining alone as a woman can offer an…odd…spectrum of experiences in a world that still hasn’t fully grasped, in 2023, that it’s ok for us to be out in public alone. At a fine dining level, it’s practically an effort in daring. (I wish I was joking, and even writing this article makes me feel like it’s 1955, but we are where we are.) 

However, this kind of solo moment offers you a rare and decadent opportunity: An exercise in fully being with yourself. You can focus completely on the food and ambience, taking it all in without having to keep up a conversation. You can get lost in the moment with…you. Best of all, there’s nothing else that needs to happen at the end of the meal, and you can enjoy it for its own sake.

It’s so much easier for us to sit at the bar and not “take up a whole table,” or somewhere inconspicuous in a back corner, but it takes something to own the whole table, treating yourself with reverence and without apology.

So the next time you’re planning to reward yourself, consider a decadent table for 1, dressed to the nines, appetite ready for action. Sit at that table like a queen on a throne, and see what you take from the experience. 

(And if you really need an assist, bring your favorite book.)

*Some Jennifer trivia: This is also how I became involved in the creation of Pixar’s Ratatouille. I placed The Brads in Thomas Keller’s kitchen at The French Laundry.


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