Culture

A Love Letter To Solo Dining

The best restaurants in London to take yourself on a date - according to cook and writer, Bre Graham

By Isobel Van Dyke

12 October 2021
W

hen I first moved to London, I was 18, geographically lost, and about to tumble head-first into my student overdraft. I spent the first few days promenading around Southbank, in full main-character-mode, seeing the city through Hollywood’s eyes. I couldn’t cook (still can’t), and decided one evening, on a whim, to eat out.

The food was really nothing special, in fact, I had unknowingly picked a countrywide chain restaurant. However, plonked in that restaurant, receiving the odd funny look from wait staff, 18-year-old me felt so mature. I was in the capital, I had huge changes ahead of me, and most importantly, I was alone.

There is a romance to dining solo - a moment of comfort in your own silence. One person who takes solo-dining very seriously is Bre Graham, who is so in love with food that she takes herself on dates as often as she can. Bre is the food writer and chef behind the Instagram account and newsletter Dishes to Delight, where she shares her favourite, simple recipes that celebrate ingredients. Her posts are so filled with joy they will brighten your day - and make you slightly envious when eating your lunchtime meal-deal.

On Thursday evening, Bre will be joining us at The Stack HQ, where she is taking over the kitchen to coincide with our monthly office party. Sign up today to become a member for free and join us for our monthly affair (this time we have more than just Pringles on offer).

Below, Bre explains in her own words what dining solo and ‘romancing yourself’ means to her…

“You don’t have to wait for an extraordinary circumstance to cook something beautiful, you are reason enough to do that”

For me cooking has always been an act of romance, with yourself...

I was single for a really long time and I didn’t want to be excluded from the narrative of taking yourself out for a meal or going to an amazing restaurant and sitting alone. I now love doing things like that by myself.

I dress up and treat it as a date with myself. That translates to cooking too. You don’t have to wait for an extraordinary circumstance to cook something beautiful, you are reason enough to do that.

You don’t have to think about anyone else or think ‘my partner doesn’t like this’ - it’s about you and only you, completely in charge. I think that’s a very powerful thing.

My ideal evening is based around individual ingredients. I’ll finish work and immediately take myself off to a fishmonger or a gorgeous deli and treat myself to one special thing that I’m desperate to create with. I’ll hunt out some incredible seafood or a rare cheese for example, and then build the meal around that.

That’s my ideal evening, food and wine.

For when we’re too exhausted...

My go-to meal is a very simple, impossible-to-beat, spaghetti in tomato sauce. You can do it in a variation of ways but there is nothing better than a home cooked tomato sauce and spaghetti. It can be the cheapest, crappiest spaghetti in the world and a 20p tin of tomatoes, but with a little bit of oil and garlic you’ve got something that is so satisfying and so comforting.

When I feel like going out…

People watching is the greatest entertainment. Sitting with a notebook and watching the world tick by. The places that immediately come to mind for solo dining are the likes of Rochelle Canteen in Arnold Circus, Spring at Somerset House, I go back to the same 10 restaurants on rotation - Missy Flynn’s latest venture Rita’s in Soho opened recently and is wonderful.

For people watching paired with beautiful food, Bre lists her favourite restaurants below:

@breaudreygraham

Bre recommends...

Places to shop for ingredients

L Terroni & Sons

Panzer's

Turner & George Butcher

Parkway Greens

Places to dine solo

Rochelle Canteen

Spring (read our interview with the Spring’s head chef Skye Gyngell here)

Quality Wines

Morito

Cafe Deco

Rita’s

The Short Stack

How to date yourself, top-tips from Bre Graham

By Isobel Van Dyke

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