Communal Tables: Jump right in

March 21, 2011 tooboots
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Communal tables, common at many popular Chicago restaurants, make me uncomfortable. I found myself at a dreaded communal table while dining with my family at Little Italy’s newest offering, Davanti Enoteca. How can you carry on a conversation within your party, comment on your food, and eat with gusto, knowing your opinions and eating habits are within sight and hearing distance of a group of strangers? Or do you edit yourself?

Usually, I find myself sitting up straighter, a little more careful with my table manners and servings, and more reserved with my tone—not the makings of a comfortable evening. Tonight was a little different; the restaurant was noisy and everyone had to speak up to be heard. Or perhaps because the waiter pointed to our side of the table when our fellow diners inquired of the evening’s special. Maybe because I had a BiG glass of wine with dinner. But probably because the conversation at the other end of the table was so freaking interesting…I couldn’t resist but, “excuse me,” jump in.

And I’m so glad I did. We talked about a soon-to-air remake of the classic, Mildred Pierce (Joan Crawford vs. Kate Winslet!) and traded stories about their craving for a particular thin crust pizza, which by coincidence is less than a mile from my parents’ house. Conversation was short and sweet, and after the bill was paid we said goodbye. However, the outcome was exactly what restaurants desired from a communal table–interaction.

Communal tables are still not my first choice of seating, but next time I’m in the same situation, I’ll skip the self-editing, and jump right in.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Pretty bootsie fan!  |  March 22, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    I will agree, communal tables annoy me and make me uncomfortable. At least it used to. Which is the complete opposite of who I am. Honestly, throw me in a room of people I dont know and I usually love it! There is just something about the idea of being “forced” to sit with others while eating. However, we do it in so many other places – church, the movies – without even a thought.

    Perhaps the thought of “breaking bread” is so intimate, that it is hard to digest (pun intended) sharing that with strangers. But I’m with you – not my first choice, but when it happens I like to think I make the best of it. For instance, when visiting Munich with my sister many moons ago, we would have never been serenaded by a group of cute Spaniards traveling with their accopello group – had it not been for the communal tables. And (I like to think) that they thought we were cute!

  • 2. literarychicks78  |  March 27, 2011 at 1:30 am

    For me it depends upon the situation. I have been to events where they hand you a number when you step in the door. You go to that table and sit by yourself with a bunch of people you don’t know. No thank you! But sitting down at a long table, in some place like hospital cafeteria, with people I don’t know doesn’t bother me that much as long as a friend or relative is with me. I do find myself editing my conversation though. No personal facts, no locations, no last name.


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