Since moving abroad, I’ve put myself into a wide range of social contexts. I’ve explored European cities with friends, strangers, and alone. I’ve grown rather fond of my own company but, sometimes, it isn’t easy. Frankly, I love sharing experiences with other people. Although the idea is still taboo for many, dining alone is one of my favorite activities when I travel, like a recent dinner in Prague…
Over the past few months, I’ve been transitioning to a pescatarian diet. Now, when I visit Prague, I’m eager to explore vegetarian restaurants.
On Saturday, I had my sights set on Mist, a quiet, cozy establishment in Vinohrady. Quiet and cozy, indeed. As I strolled by, I was surprised to see the place practically empty.
There are a few different things that come to mind when we spot a somewhat vacant restaurant. The optimistic view is that it’s a hidden gem, mostly visited by locals. I had adopted this mentality after traveling a bit and it served me well. I remained hopeful that Mist would not disappoint.
After glancing at the menu outside, I took another peek inside. The decor and ambiance were warm and inviting. Without a second thought, I stepped over the threshold, through a blue doorway, and was greeted by a friendly face.
“Please, sit anywhere,” he said, gesturing to the tables.
I picked a back corner table and settled in a seat facing the street. It was prime people-watching position.
A small book was resting on one end of the wooden table: The Love Poems of Rumi.
Before I could open the book, the man came over to take my order. I selected beetroot risotto.
“It’s a big one!” the man exclaimed proudly. He seemed satisfied with my choice, evidenced by an infectious smile which revealed deep dimples.
We struck up a conversation. His name was Ben and he told me that they only started cooking vegetarian food last May. In fact, he explained that his original plan was to open a tearoom. I noticed a string of teapot-shaped lights strung across the window as evidence.
We chatted a bit more, about the restaurant, Prague, the Czech Republic, and his homeland of China.
After a few minutes, Ben went to the kitchen and I was left to read some poetry: “Looking for Love”.
I ate slowly, pausing every few morsels to sip my water and revel in the moment.
At the finish of my meal, I was blissfully happy. I felt warmth and connection. Actually, I felt love. If there is one word to describe my dining experience, it’s “love.” This was a pure and universal kind of love: a love of food, a love of people, and a love of life.
The prospect of eating out alone can seem daunting. For some, it’s a pretty foreign concept. For many, it’s a unique experience of food, friendship, and felicity.
If you haven’t dined out alone, I challenge you to try it. I can’t promise a book of poems, though you’re welcome to bring your own, of course. Still, do it! I dare you! And tell me about your experience, even if it was a bit awkward: email@example.com. I want to hear! Believe me, I can commiserate with awkward situations.