Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Table for One: Your Guide to Dining Solo in #YEG

I’ve always loved the culture of fine dining: The sophistication of the mannerisms, the presentation of the food, the romance of the atmosphere. I suppose I developed my taste at an early age, when my parents would bring me on vacations and I would sample restaurants on cruise ships and resorts. However, my tastes evolved from the mouth of a picky eater to the tongue of a bold palate when I went off to Japan to experience an entirely new culture. Since riding out adulthood and its vitals – paying off student loans, learning how to budget and discovering the frozen-food isle – I’ve had to shift my adventurous appetite to fit the eating needs of an artist.

Luckily, this isn’t a disappointing task in our artistic city; Edmonton has an abundance of affordable, local restaurants that are fit to feed even the high rollers. Whether you’re a new, rosy-cheeked couple or old, loose-lipped friends, finding a kitchen table away from home is easy in this sociable city. But what about those women who adore a stiff cocktail and a mouth-watering meal, who refuse to wait for someone else to join them?

This year, after the abrupt halt of what you could call a summer romance, I decided not to let my new-found loneliness interfere with my love of fine dining any longer. Fighting the clichéd urge to bawl into a pint of ice cream while watching a romantic comedy, I took a sort of eat-pray-love approach and decided to celebrate my new-found freedom by discovering the many restaurants I had missed out on while being tied down to an incompatible palate.

Some women may feel a sense of dread while occupying space at a candle-lit 4-top, hiding themselves behind their menus, phones, books – anything to avoid the eyes of happy couples and seemingly-annoyed servers. But through time, I’ve become accustomed to enjoying a crisp glass of wine and a fattening piece of cake without shame. In other words, I’ve decided to finger-snappingly own the solo seating arrangement.

I find freedom in not being concerned with filling gaps in conversation and making potential compromises on anything I enjoy. I find liberty in being my own dining partner and taking myself out on dates. So whether you’re single or are simply tired of making compromises, here is your solo manifesto for dining alone in the Twitter handle we Edmontonians call #YEG. Remember it, as it’s the best tool for scoping out your next appetizing conquest.

First Thing’s First: #Dessert 

The number one thing a solo gal has got to do is indulge in life. One of the best joys in life is sampling something sweet. It’s the perfect solution for any type of occasion, whether you’ve had a bad day at work or are celebrating a raise. Reward yourself with a treat at any of these downtown locations.

Spoil Yourself: Crepe Symphony |10115 100A St NW
A quiet, family-owned restaurant with a full bar.  
Recommendation: Banana Strawberry Crepe. Includes two filling crepes for $9.80.

Best Dessert: Dauphine Bakery and Bistro|10129B 104 St
Less crowded than Duchess Bake Shop and in the heart of downtown.
Recommendation: Chocolate Hazelnut Tart. $6.00.
#Glutenfree and #vegan options available.

Best Stop-in: Roast Coffee House and Wine Bar|10359 104 St NW
Hands down the finest coffee in #YEG with the friendliest staff.
Recommendation: Salted Caramel Latte. $5.25.

You Deserve Better: #Lunch 

While lunch appointments are often reserved for holding quick business meetings or catching up with friends, make a point to take yourself out on a solo rendezvous with all the stops. Try the following restaurants for a non-rushed, relaxed meal and take some time to reflect on what you really want in life.

Spoil Yourself: Blue Plate Diner|10145 104 St
Perfect for the artistic, character-loving foodie.
Recommendation: Pan Seared Salmon. $16
#Glutenfree and #vegan options available.

Best Lunch: Tokyo Noodle Shop |10736 82 Ave
The freshest sushi in #YEG (and the heaviest chairs).
Recommendation: Red Dragon Rolls. $9.95.

Best Stop-in: Remedy Café Whyte|10404
Whyte Ave Indian and Pakistani dishes with available seating upstairs.
Recommendation: Butter Chicken Wrap. #Glutenfree. Includes two filling wraps for $8.75.
#Glutenfree and #vegan options available.

Eat in Peace: #Breakfast. 

Whether you’re a morning person or are trying to be, take advantage of Saturday and reserve sleeping in for Sunday. Take a stroll along the river valley, visit the Strathcona Farmers Market and finish all those projects you set out to do. You can start by checking out these cute breakfast places near Whyte Ave.

Spoil Yourself: Culina Mill Creek |9914, 89 Ave Gourmet brunch, served at the prime time of 10 a.m to 2 p.m.
Recommendation: The Best Breakfast of Your Life A.K.A Bacon and Eggs (Slow-braised pork, frittata, potato hash, mushroom cream sauce & house-made sweet potato toast). $17.00.
#Glutenfree options available.

Best Breakfast: Sugarbowl |10922 88 Ave
Close to so many amenities and so many hearts.
Recommendation: All Day Breakfast Special (2 eggs, bacon or sausage with potatoes, toast, coffee or tea). $7.00.
#Glutenfree options available.

Best Stop-in: Callie’s Teas|10151 82 Ave
A quaint shop serving over 250 teas and scrumptious home-made treats.
Recommendation: Callie’s scones with cream and jam and the tea of your choice. $Prices vary.
#Glutenfree options available

Bravely Own It: #Dinner 
Don’t be put off by the assumption that going out for dinner is only for date nights with a partner. We all have to eat, and we shouldn’t feel the need to be shut-in because we’re sans table companions. Embrace your love of fine dining and take advantage of these great restaurants in #YEG .

Spoil Yourself: Louisiana Purchase |10320 111 St
Think fancy comfort food, southern style.
Recommendation: Cottonpickin’ Chicken. $22.95.
#Glutenfree and #vegan options available.

Best Dinner: Tres Carnales |10119 100 A St
Champion Mexican cousine with cool prices.
Recommendation: Beef Tacos. Includes four tacos for $10.00.
#Glutenfree and #vegan options available.

Best Stay-in: We Do Delivery |780-756-6000
Choose from 25 of #YEG’s restaurants to create your own dining experience
Recommendation: Sorrentino’s Tortellini Polo. $18.00.
#Glutenfree and #vegan options available.

Women have been indoctrinated into believing that without someone to come with us in social settings and ease the frightening thought of being alone we will crumble and have a horrible time by ourselves – yet it’s simply not true. Because of this belief, I’ve missed out on the many pleasures I could have had if I had just gone somewhere solo.

Whether we are tied to a loving relationship, a limited income or an unmovable job, we can’t forget to embrace the things we want in life. Want to travel? Venture into the local fine dining scene in #YEG. Want to become more confident around others? Sit alone without a menu or a phone or a book and get to know yourself better.

Live the manifesto of the solo woman. Take yourself to those restaurants you wished someone else would bring you to. Feel no shame from enjoying comfort food in public and occupying table space. Let’s graduate from fearing uncomfortable silence to finger-snappingly owning the solo seating arrangement. And if we need help, there’s always Twitter.

Tweet your solo dining adventures to @EdmontonWoman and we’ll share your story. 

Published in Edmonton Woman's September/October issue.

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