The first one

Most singles I know find going to bars and restaurants on their own intimidating. Is it the being alone bit or the being alone with your thoughts bit that is terrifying? Well, I’m about to find out on my first night out as newly single.

How exciting, and lonely, and scary! I couldn’t stand going to one of my old favourites – I needed a night out without any memories. I chose Viajante – London’s latest hot-spot-in-waiting in Bethnal Green. Head Chef Nuno Mendes grew up in Portugal and went on to build himself a successful career spanning Jean Georges, El Bulli and Bacchus. This is his new baby.

The bar and restaurant are part of a new boutique hotel housed in the old Town Hall. I walk into Viajante at 6.30pm on a Friday night. Viajante means traveller in Portuguese – a perfect start to my journey of Tables for ONE through bars and restaurants. The Viajante bar is designed in safe neutrals, wood and nude upholstery. It’s bland and disappears into itself; absolutely PERFECT for a hesitant night out on my own. I found myself a stool around the island bar and hide myself behind a menu. What the bar lacks in personality is more than made up by the bartenders’ colourful disposition. Warren and John make me feel very welcome, and with just the right amount of flirting help me arrive at a cocktail to start my evening.

The Skye Julep (Talisker, mint, peach, lime ginger beer) at £8 is definitely worth the trip to Bethnal Green. I don’t brave dinner on my first evening out on my own, so I turn to my friendly neighbourhood bartenders for bar snack suggestions. After much discussion they settled on Mini Bocadillo de Jamon (£3, and delicious) and Beetroot Tartare with Mozzaarella Bubbles (£4.50, and minus points for … well, for just being beetroot).

I finally look around. I imagine everyone in the bar is staring at me, making up a sad story about the single woman on the lonely bar stool. To my relief nobody’s looking! A few groups of girls, two couples and a gay man – we’re just a happy bunch going through Viajante’s cocktail list. I try their New York Sour but send it back – their version has egg whites. Yuck! John now makes me the Viajante Manhattan (£8, sweet vermouth, bourbon whiskey, Angostura bitters, maraschino cherry and orange, and then some more cherry). It’s bittersweet and gorgeously heart-warming. And then Nuno Mendes walked in! He’s adorable, shy and exhausted! Chef Mendes tells me that he hasn’t taken a day off since the restaurant opened nearly a month ago. Poor guy!

I’ve managed close to 3 hours on my first night out alone. This is less scary than I thought it would be. It’s still lonely though. I want to not miss the Ex but all the Skye Juleps in the world won’t do that tonight. On my way out I sneak a look at the dining room – intimate and electric, with chefs at work in the immaculate open kitchen. Now this is more like it… soon I’ll be brave enough to actually ask for a Table for ONE.

-p

Viajante on Urbanspoon

13 Comments

Filed under Bar, Bar food, Cocktails, London, Tapas

13 responses to “The first one

  1. Grishma

    Brilliant….Well Done!

  2. Padmini Mirchandani

    Attagirl!
    To turn a setback around by facing the monkey head on and then moving forward takes courage and also skill. The reality of being single resonates with so many women, your writings could help demystify it for them!
    Great going…

  3. Padmini

    by the way, that Manhattan recipe sounds good too – shall look out for more references, especially wines, in your journey ahead!

  4. Ami

    Honest and bittersweet…… remember ‘you can never cross the ocean unless you leave the shore’. With you in the calm and the stormy seas xxxxx

  5. foram

    Good for you p….. But can you please make reservations for a table for 2 on May 26 so I can buy you dinner?
    xx

  6. Hansu

    great!! well written….straight from the heart….love you lots

  7. Priyankaa

    Pooj! Its wonderful!! You write the way you talk… (i can almost hear you)… now we only need a magazine or newspaper to sign you up for a weekly spot… and soon after your own book! Then you become millionaire… Ok? So, Blog on doll!

  8. Ranjana

    Hi Pooj
    Great blog! Cant wait to read about more of your adventures! The Skye Julep sounds yummy!
    Which restaurants have you checked out?
    Hang in there kiddo!
    Love
    Aunty Ranjana

  9. hi Pooja
    I like that the drinks, ambience and food are the main notes, and the personal part is there, but not overplayed…and that makes it touching and worth following – i loved your title Table for One. “Table for One, Please”…I can hear you saying in less faltering and more confident tones as the days go…
    And then even if there is someone else, you will continue enjoying the Table for One journey – feeling quite, quite complete and unassailable at that table. Keep writing…

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