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Taking Myself Out to Dinner

A while back, I got two coupons to a local restaurant called Sur Lie, each for $15 but worth $30. I thought l could use both when going out to dinner for a friend’s birthday at the end of July, but I hadn’t read the fine print - only one coupon per visit.

This left me unexpectedly with an extra coupon. My first inclinations were to sell it to someone, or find someone to accompany me for another trip. Except it expired at the end of August, and it was a busy month. I didn't know if I would be able to coordinate with someone else in time.

Only then did the obvious solution occur to me: l could go out by myself.

Or maybe it’s not so obvious. We're taught so often that being alone means we should be pitied, and the lack of a companion is not something to advertise. But I don't mind being alone - in fact, sometimes it’s necessary for me - and so this approach made perfect sense.

My own schedule, and the restaurant being closed for dinner on Sundays and Mondays, still made it difficult to find a time, but finally l went last Tuesday. The main room was closed for a private function, so I sat in the bar, and happily the staff didn't blink when l asked for a spot for one person.

Since Sur Lie is a tapas-style restaurant, with dishes that are meant to be shared, I found one immediate benefit to going on my own: I didn't have to compare or compromise on choices with anyone else. I could just get what I wanted, and as much or as little of it as I needed.

l started with the Brussels sprouts, served with lardons (i.e. bits of pork fat), almonds, and a type of sauce called a salmorra. I generally like Brussels sprouts, but these were especially tasty, with the sprouts nicely crisped from the fat, with a hint of smokiness and a bit of sweetness from the

sauce. The plate also looked gorgeous, with the elegant horseshoe display of the sprouts, mingled evenly with the lardons and the almonds.

Next up were oyster mushrooms with jalapenos and aioli. on a bed of greens. These definitely had a kick, and they were at the upper end of the spice range I enjoy. But the greens and aioli helped balance it out, and the mushrooms themselves were soft but meaty, with a bit of crispiness on the bottom where they had fried a little in the skillet.

For my third and final course I had grilled short ribs from a local farm called Pineland, served with pickled peppers, heirloom tomatoes, and a green sauce called mojo verde. I'm not always a steak person, but this was excellent, with perfectly cooked meat, succulent and tender, with lovely

flavor and just the right amount of seasoning. The tomatoes gave some acidity and were wonderfully juicy, and the sauce and peppers gave it some brightness. The serving size was also perfect; I wouldn’t have wanted any more.

Overall it was an excellent meal. I ate maybe a little more than l needed but not by a lot. And since I could eat at my own pace and be more mindful, focused on the food and the experience. I thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful presentations – plating food well is definitely an art form - and not once did I feel awkward or worried about what other people must be thinking about me. Taking myself out to dinner was a clear success, and if you’ve never tried it, I highly recommend it.

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