Although Cat Thomson is a recent convert to the whole experience, solo dining is becoming a worldwide growing food trend - more and more people are finding the joy of eating by themselves.

So is solo dining weird? Of course not.

In a recent report (March 2019) from OpenTable, the restaurant booking site they flagged up dining solo as a growing trend with a 160 per cent growth in eating alone between 2014 and 2018 across the UK.

In New York solo reservations (as a per cent of total reservation volume) have been increasing over the last five years (2014-2018). While they are still a small percentage of total reservations, solo reservations increased more than 80 per cent from 2014 to 2018 in the five New York boroughs sampled.

This makes perfect sense, there are so many and varied reasons why people find themselves wanting to go out, hungry but alone.

Cat totally embraced the challenge, as she had never eaten an evening meal out by myself before. Read about her thoughts and discover how she got on, dining alone in her restaurant review of Mono, South Bridge Edinburgh.

Here are Cat’s top ten pieces of dining alone advice:

 

Do your research first, don’t leave anything to chance

Select a place you really want to try, read restaurant reviews in advance to identify your perfect food match venue.

Otherwise, you might end up wandering around the streets aimlessly looking for somewhere, whilst getting hungrier and angrier.

Know exactly where and when you want to dine

Time to be super organised and book your table online. Firstly this lets the restaurant know you are going to be dining alone and saves any embarrassment like being turned away at the door.

Make it a date set in stone, so you can’t back out, it’s human nature to prevaricate.

Don’t be nervous about being alone

Now is the time to be brave, entering the restaurant might make you feel uncomfortable, but don’t panic, remember that you are part of a growing food trend.

I guarantee that you will not be the first solo diner that has ever set foot in the place. Relax, it is now up to the staff to make sure you have a really great time.

Don’t just settle, choose somewhere to sit that you feel comfortable

Don’t settle for the first seat you are offered, trust your gut instinct and choose a seat which that makes you feel comfortable. I prefer to survey the whole restaurant, but whatever suits you is fine.

Do your homework

Check the online menu in advance, that way you plan your meal in ahead of time, it is a great idea at least to have a couple of options of starters and mains that you would like to try.

Even a quick glance on the board outside before you enter will suffice. Don’t panic order.

Drink plenty of water 

First things first, ask for a jug of tap water. If you are nervous a sip of cold water gives you something to do with your hands, while you regain your composure.

However, don’t go crazy with the booze, a glass or so is fine to calm the nerves but downing a bottle might mean you won’t remember a thing.

Bring something to distract you

Bring a distraction device with you, I brought my phone but books or your laptop will do. If you are really uncomfortable you can always pretend you are a business executive, writer or traveller. Fake it till you make it.

Chat to your waiter

Talk to your waiter, ask questions you will be amazed how helpful and friendly they can be. Pick their brains for top recommendations, tap into their local knowledge.

Take your time and enjoy your meal

Take your time, be mindful of what you are tasting. You are eating alone not speed eating, try and identify the ingredients, savour every taste.

Transport is important

Don’t miss the last bus home. Make sure you have a transport escape plan or stay local support your local business and walk home and remember cash for your waiter’s tip.

Here are Cat’s suggestions for places in Edinburgh to try solitary dining:

Mono Restaurant

(85 South Bridge, Edinburgh, EH1 1HN, Telephone 0131 466 4726)

Picture: Trip Advisor

I’ve been there done that, and got the t-shirt. I highly recommend this place for the food, atmosphere and service.

Blackwells Caffe Nero

(53-59 South Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1LS, Telephone  0131 558 2624)

Picture: MaxPixel

A bit daunted, then why not try lunch solo first at Caffe Nero, Blackwells, a casual coffee-shop chain they are trialling a new range of lunch dishes here. Great friendly, talkative staff, so you won’t be lonely.

Paul Tamburrini at Macdonald Holyrood Hotel

(81 Holyrood Rd, Edinburgh EH8 8AU, Telephone 0344 879 9028)

Picture: Trip Advisor

Restaurant in Macdonald Hotel, Holyrood, so well used to solo business diners. Guaranteed great service, and with chef Paul Tamburrini in the kitchen fine food awaits.

Bento Asian Food Bar

(52 South Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1LL Telephone  0131 629 5570)

Picture: Bento

Perch on a bar stool whilst you watch the world go by, plenty of options with sushi, bento boxes & dim sum all available.

• READ MORE: Mono, Edinburgh, restaurant review

About The Author

Catriona Thomson

Catriona is Deputy Picture Editor at the Scotsman and Scotland on Sunday.

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