What is one to do on Christmas Eve alone, but with want and means for a good meal? I adored the Greek restaurant near me, but had never dined there alone because it was very much a fine dining establishment. Ever since I received the email from this restaurant announcing their Christmas Eve menu that featured the traditional seven fishes dish I pined to dine there that night, but solo fine dining fear took over every time I considered making a reservation. Then, that morning, my director asked what my plans were for that evening, and I just said without thinking, “I’m having the traditional seven fishes dish at the Greek restaurant tonight.” A whole conversation then ensued on the seven fishes tradition, then I went to my desk and made a reservation using the Open Table app on my phone. Apparently, I really had my heart set on this.
Later that evening after work, I pulled into the parking lot, took a deep breath, and walked in. I simply said, “I have a reservation for Beatriz …” omitting the soon to be obvious fact that it was a reservation for 1. The young man found my reservation in Open Table, and he stated to his colleague that I was to be seated in the bar. I did not want to be seated in the bar for a host of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that I do not take my sobriety for granted, especially on a day like Christmas Eve where I am all by myself.
The older woman working with the young gentleman pointed to something on the screen, I’ve no idea what she pointed to (in my imagination she pointed to my history of dining with there with my friends during the week), but whatever it was it convinced her to change my seating, and she said to the young man that they could seat me in the dining room since it would be more comfortable. Then she looked up at me and asked, “Do you have a preference between the dining room or the bar?” In my most accommodating voice that I could muster I said, “the dining room if you can accommodate me there.”
And she replied, “Absolutely.”
I felt like I won some elusive prize with gaining admission to the dining room of a fine dining establishment on Christmas Eve as a single female solo diner. It feels like a strange achievement, though it shouldn’t because all that happened is that I have money in my bank account for this meal, made a reservation on Open Table and appeared for said reservation in a timely fashion. The situation was as simple as a single woman with the ability to take oneself out to on Christmas Eve. It’s that simple, and it isn’t all at the same time.
In the restaurant, there were no other singles present, not in the dining room, not in the bar. I was a bit of a novelty at first with the staff, but I found the more normal, at ease, and happy that I appeared the more relaxed they became. We had a potentially shaky start when my waiter asked me, “Waiting for one more?” And I gave him a friendly relaxed smile, and said, “It’s just me tonight.” He recovered quickly, and I could tell that my own demeanor about dining alone set him at ease as well. I learned if you don’t act weird, they are less likely to act weird towards you. Not a full-proof rule, but a good place to start. On this night, this rule helped me find my way to an enjoyable meal. I started with the traditional Avgolemono soup, which is a chicken, rice and lemon soup. The memory of the pucker of the lemon makes me wish I had some as I’m typing this post this very minute.
The fresh pita with the spread of the day, that night it was roasted red pepper puree, is always worth the price of admission to this establishment. Too many times I eat too much pita before my meal arrives. Today I exercised unusual restraint.
A bottle of Souroti Greek sparkling water in a marble glass holder can give you that chi chi feeling you may miss from having a bottle of wine at your table.
The seven fishes dish was heavenly. I had to restrain myself from bringing the bowl to my face to drink the remaining broth.
Towards the end of my meal the dining room started to fill up with couples and families galore. I was smart in choosing the early 5:45 reservation. I paid my bill, and presented my coat check ticket to the lovely older woman who changed my seating to the dining room. She asked me, “How was your meal?”
“It was lovely. I’ve always wanted to have the seven fishes dish on Christmas Eve.”
“Just so you know, we put our own Greek spin on it, so if you ever have it any place else it will likely be different.”
“It was amazing. Thank you.”
She touched my arm and said, “Have a good Christmas dear.”