The Restaurant Where Eating Alone is a Requirement
By Grace Bascos
When’s the last time you dined alone? And not cramming your lunch into your maw at your desk, but sat down and had a proper multi-course meal with no one but your own good company? Anyone who’s traveled solo knows the drill — it can be a little nerve-wracking, being seated in restaurant full of two-tops and group dinners, as you’re seated at your table with a glaringly empty chair on the other side. This weekend in Amsterdam, Eenmaal takes away that other seat chair at the table and affirms it's ok to eat by yourself.
The brainchild of Dutch design agency Marina van Goor and branding partners Vandejong, Eenmaal (which is a Dutch play on words for both “one time” and “one meal”) seeks to break the perceived taboo of dining alone. Van Goor wanted to separate the idea of “dining alone” and “being lonely.” “Dining alone shouldn’t be interpreted as something sad,” she explained.
But this meal is anything but sad. You’re seated at a modular table for one in the minimal storefront. Though your smart phone is usually the last line of defense when you’re eating solo, you’ll want to put that away to give all your attention to the four courses by Dutch culinary gun for hire Leslie Dronkers. He’s presented a menu of seasonal and local ingredients that celebrate the region’s produce, including asparagus and chamomile with egg mimosa, and mullet with rhubarb mustard and lavender.
The concept was introduced earlier this year in Amsterdam at the Rolling Kitchens festival, and the recent sold out weekend means that there are future Eenmaals in store.
It seems liberating, in a way, to dine like this, without worrying about what others in the restaurant may be thinking, as they are all eating alone as well. But maybe you’re old hat at this and don’t care what others think, and just want to indulge in a gourmet meal just because the food is good. Either way, at the end of the meal, you don’t have to fight anyone to pick up the check.