“I got us the last reservation,” RG Daughter told me. “It’s earlier than we normally go out, but this place is supposed to be amazing.” I have been in Colorado for the past few days, a quick trip west to celebrate RG Daughter’s birthday.
Amazing restaurant, eh? Of late, I have learned I have to give up being so skeptical when someone tells me a certain restaurant is terrific, or that a specific beach is both quiet and wide, or that I will “love” a particular movie. Of late, I have been proven oh-so-wrong when, regardless of who is telling me what I will like, I still assume the restaurant must be mediocre, the beach has to be busy, and the movie plot is likely contrived.
Starting yesterday morning, however, when RG Daughter promised me the “best cafe mocha you will ever taste” at an indy coffee shop near her campus, I figured the gods must be trying to hit me over the head with the notion that I should stop pretending I know anything about anything I haven’t actually tried, and that I should shut up already with the skepticism and just try what various friends and family members are telling me to.
Duh, simple. But this opinionated head is sometimes quite hard to break through.
Thus, I now know I will never have another mocha like the one I had yesterday (it’s all in the melted dark chocolate they use instead of the usual syrup), and that a cafe in a small town a couple of towns away from my daughter’s college is, indeed, amazing.
We were seated at a nice table for four that overlooked a deck that overlooked the water that fed the springs that lured people to this town more than a hundred years ago. I noticed an enormous table next to us, half full, where the guests were clearly not dining together. One woman at one end of the table had turned her chair to the side and was sipping wine as she wrote in a journal. At the other end of the table, however, an elderly woman with tight white-gray curls and bright blue eyes, was engaging the young man to her left in an animated conversation punctuated with many hand movements and smiles. Soon, a young woman to her right joined their dinner talk.
One by one, the host seated another guest at this large rectangular table and offered a menu. One by one, these single guests were soon sipping wine and enjoying their meals with the others seated around them. By the time we were pondering dessert for our table, the woman with the journal had stashed it in her bag and was offering a taste of her wine to two women who’d been seated next to her. The opposite end of the table looked for all the world like a dinner party in full swing, the matriarch fully in charge of a conversation with no awkward lulls.
I learned this was a “community table” available only to walk-ins. A few of the guests came in as couples, but the remaining guests would otherwise have been a “table for one.” Except here in this amazing place, there were no tables for one–just a seat for one and the opportunity to break bread with others.
I know this is hardly an unusual concept in various European countries. But this was the first time I’d seen such a table in an upscale eatery that is reportedly always booked solid with reservations. Could a communal/community table work in any type of restaurant?
I tried to picture it in a number of places in South Florida, where I have dined alone at a bar in order to not feel alone. Such a table would have been so welcome, at least to me. I can’t imagine it in my restaurant, however, because we have so few guests who dine solo with us. But if we had a community table, might it become locally known and attract more single people? Is that a good thing for a restaurant? I really don’t know.
The communal dinner that played out next to ours on this night, however, seemed perfectly natural–not at all like a forced dining concept or a new fad. It was just dinner, and no one dined alone.