Eenmaal in Amsterdam is thé first one-person restaurant in the world. The tables are all small dining stations designed for just one person. Last week the concept popped up in London, thanks to Glaceau Smart water and The Flaneur went along to Grape Street for the lone-dining experience.
A table for one, please
What is immediately noticeable is the lack of background chatter. You realise just how noisy normal restaurants are. Here, where everyone is alone and doesn’t know their neighbour the atmosphere is much quieter and calmer. Inventor Marina van Goor hopes you will be inspired to take time out and enjoy your lunchtime again. Actually most people seemed to be playing with their phones. Maybe you should have to check them in when you arrive.
The food is ideal for the health conscious. The menu lists all the calories and none of them are excessive. You can easily leave after a three course meal having only 600 or 700 calories. The drinks are simple – one choice: Glaceau smart water. What’s smart about it? Apparently it’s inspired by clouds. It’s the only water that is vapour distilled – the way nature purifies water.
But what about the food? Small portions elegantly presented on the white plates with choices such as ricotta with rye bread, caramelised whey and beetroot and white chocolate and poppy-seed baba cake with lemon sorbet and elderflower.
I opted for a starter of Chicken ballotine with soft parsnip mash and crunchy chestnuts. Beef with horseradish and roasted carrots followed. Served very rare the beef was mostly tender, the long carrots adding a satisfying bite.
The aim is to get Londoners to stop eating their lunch al desko and reconnect with a meaningful lunchtime. With mis-matched chairs and white cube desks all pointing in different directions it all looks very art gallery and could be a performance. It’s ideal when you want some peace and quiet, and more elegant than hanging a Do Not Disturb sign from your nose. There are just two issues. The cube tables prevent you from stretching your legs, and if you have thought As I’m alone I’ll read a book, beef is a bad choice, needing as it does both hands.
If you’ve ever wanted to read at the table – or play with your phone – without getting told off the Eenmaal lone diner experience is for you.