During two nights in late June, pop-up restaurant Eenmaal served solo dinners in Bos en Lommer, Amsterdam. Marina van Goor, social designer and the initiator, chose the restaurant as a public and social place to break the taboo of being alone. Doen Foundation and branding agency Vandejong helped her to make the experiment happen.
Having many friends, being social, networking, connecting, are socially and culturally encouraged. ‘Being with’ is so praised that doing things alone has become a conspicuous act, if not stigmatised. Food for example is profoundly meant to be shared. How rare it is to treat yourself on your lonesome intentionally? Many do so when they travel. What about eating alone in your own city? Isn’t it the best way to indulge in a plate, random thoughts, self reflection, a book, whatever you and no-one else feel like and be free from social duties or distractions.
If you think you would be embarrassed to do so, Eenmaal (literally ‘one meal’ or ‘one time’ in Dutch) found the perfect mix to convert you to solo dinners. The empty shop turned into a restaurant was arranged with 10 tables to seat only one person. No shame to request the dreaded table for one just as when you arrived at any restaurant. A welcome cocktail, music, candles, flowers enhanced the cosy atmosphere. Tables were pulled apart so that you did not feel obliged to socialize with strangers. Seated in the middle of the room and facing a wall, I could have felt awkward but my solitary fellows pretended not to notice.
As soon as the pickled radish-butter-salt-bread appetizer arrived, I forgot everything about the experiment. I enjoyed my own company and ate slowly the lovely seasonal courses prepared by Streep and De IJsmakerij. Special mention for the elderflower cocktail, the sea lavender salad, the chamomile butter sauce and the white wine sorbet. I am afraid the rest of the dinner was between me and myself…
Feel free to overcome personal fears or social pressure to save regularly quiet and lonely moments and disconnect from the hectic and loud part of our cities. There is much to discover and renew yourself.