Preach not to others what they should eat, but eat as becomes you, and be silent.
The above quote by a Greek sage and philosopher of the first century AD, remembered throughout recorded history as espousing that fate determines external events but individuals are responsible for their own actions, drew my interest not for his “thou shall not preach” admonishment but “eat as becomes you, and be silent.”
Eating as becomes one’s self is, of course, easiest when alone—and that’s where the “be silent” holds true, too.
But although I found myself on the way home from work last Thursday night turning into the driveway of an area restaurant I wanted to visit, I don’t necessarily want to keep quiet about it.
It’s easy to go out to eat alone for breakfast, brunch or lunch—with a book or newspaper for company in this aloneness if preoccupation with food or one’s thoughts is not enough for comfort. Dinner is another story altogether. Parties—of two, three, four, six, eight, you know…—dine out.
A party of one becomes a matter of me, myself and I.
Well, I did a rough check of the parking lot at a New Preston eatery and it seemed to me there was room for one more car, so I aimed to give myself a treat.
“Can you seat one?” I asked the maitre d’, as the dining areas seemed quite full, even shortly after 6 o’clock.
“Of course. This is the Community table,” he said, referring to one of Litchfield County newest eating establishments, Community table at 223 Litchfield Turnpike.
And he proceeded to seat me at the spot with the selfsame name—in the center of a long table crafted from a 300-year-old black walnut tree that had grown on the property.
Two couples had dug into their appetizers, and conversation, at my left, and a party of four was poring over the menu at my right as I was seated dead center, with an empty chair in front of me.
Well, I had a book with me (and had turned off my cell phone before entering). …
As it turned out, I didn’t miss using either of them.
It took me less time to absorb the ambience—stylishly spare, bright and airy—than to peruse the purposefully pared-down menu.
“So, what did I have?” I asked my husband when I got home later that evening. “Beets and fish,” he figured, guessing correctly, but as dessert never interests him, he quit after mulling the appetizer and entrée selections.
Beets & Berries set the tone of the meal from the outset. Beets, raspberries, blackberries, currants, candied pecans, fennel, blue cheese, blueberry citrus vinaigrette. Yum yum yum. Like having “afters” before the main course.
Locally sourced ingredients, and even though it would be tempting to attempt to replicate the appetizer in one’s own kitchen, that would be a presumption, so masterfully it was executed under the guidance of executive chef Joel Viehland.
Stonington seared scallops next, as much because I love seafood as the fact that I wanted to sample the greens: fennel puree, kale, seaweed pressed kohlrabi—with lamb pancetta and a drizzle of vinaigrette.
You know, it was actually enough sustenance—and enough of a culinary experience—to stop there, but when the waitress came by with dessert choices (only two), I told her to pick one for me. She decided on the gooseberry fool rather than the blackberry crumb cake. Did I already say “Yum!”?
This solo diner did not dine altogether alone, however. Conversation with the couples began with “What did you order?” And when two diners were squeezed into the one spot opposite me—all chairs scooted over to give them room—and proceeded to order one Beets & Berries to share as a starter, all of us other 9 diners looked up. Soon enough, someone said, “You’ll be sorry. You should have ordered two!”
The food was the star, the camaraderie the garnish (as I expect it always is at Community table, www.communitytablect.com).