Hello to all from Boston. Your curtain raiser is in town to catch a couple of Red Sox games and push a few personal boundaries. To achieve both I have left the familiar behind and am travelling solo.
And I’m loving it.
Never one to mind my own company I’m loving the freedom and adventure.
Today I attacked Boston’s freedom trail. Whilst I have done sections before I have never been able to do the whole length. The trail takes you on a 2.5 mile historic tour of Boston. There are several ways you can do the trail, I chose to do it unguided with only a map in hand. The trail
is marked by a red line and takes you back more than two centuries.
I suggest taking a map (costing $3.00) because there are places where the red line embedded in the footpath becomes a little confusing.
Part of the trail takes you through the North End. North End was home to Paul Revere and also to a large Italian population, although probably not at the same time. It is also home to many fine Italian restaurants and Mike’s Pastry, an Italian patisserie featuring signature calzone. A must try and always busy.
Coming back from Charlestown which is the end of the trail (think Bunker Hill), I decided it was time for dinner. Having had enough of fast food I went in search of some fine Italian in the North End.
The time was around 6.30 and diners had started in on their entrees (in Australia, this is the course before the main one). My first stop was a restaurant called Strega. I chose this one because my Italian MIL always says “Ostrega”, which as far as I can tell means something like “oh geez”. The lobster ravioli in a crab bisque also caught my eye. Mains were priced at $20 to about $42 and the place was a quarter full.
Having confirmed I didn’t need a reservation I asked the maître d for a table for one. She had been standing in the door way trying to spruik for business when I arrived.
I was informed that the table for one was a no go because she was fairly busy but that I could dine at the bar.
Say that again? You want me to eat at the bar whilst watching the couples have a fine dining experience?
I politely declined and started to walk away when she explained I would not be dining at the bar per se, but at a high table near the bar. Apparently you have to be at least a twosome to enjoy dining at a normal table. I declined once more and went in search of another place to eat.
The second place I tried had very few diners and another spruiking maître d. This one handed me a menu and explained the nightly specials. Then I asked for a table for one. We can seat you at the bar was the answer.
Do solo people in Boston never dine at a table?
I have to scratch my head at this letting the bird in the hand go logic. There was no queue and both places were spruiking for business. I would have come and gone in half an hour. It was a Thursday night.
With dishes priced $20 and up, it is not unreasonable to want a dining experience rather than just food on a plate. To me, this includes ambiance and being treated with respect.
Being relegated to the bar as a single is a slap in the face. It is also a short sighted strategy. My money is clearly good enough, but my single status is not. So much for goodwill.
I could have dined at a table and been converted into a raving fan. I could have gone back to my hotel and told everyone about the dining experience. I could have blogged, tweeted and jumped on Facebook and raved.
No doubt, there is usually no shortage of restaurant patrons on the North End. But if filling the restaurant is so easy, why spruik? Because the restaurant competition in the North End is fierce.
I had heard about discrimination against solo travellers, but this was the first time I had experienced it.
Goodwill generation requires more than just seeing diners as walking credit cards. It requires seeing diners as people.
In the end I dined on $8 clam chowder at Quincy Market at a normal sized table. A most enjoyable and tasty meal and one that I’m more than happy to blog and tell all my friends about.
As my MIL would say:
or perhaps the better word is: