Let's hear it for our readers. As always they're hungry; as always they have plenty to say. The July 27 column about dining for one suggested eating solo at the bar, and that sure brought out the comments. Here's one from Susan of Buffalo.
"Dear Janice: I read your article about solo dining and just wanted to put my two cents worth in.
"First, as a baby boomer with arthritis and very short legs, climbing on a bar stool to have dinner is not a pretty sight! After dangling my legs in the air for an hour and a half, it would require a bulldozer to get me moving again.
"Second, my parents would turn over in their graves if they saw me sitting alone on a bar stool. (So would the dear sisters from my Catholic high school.) The impression is that the 'lady' in question would be looking for something more than just fine dining.
"I'll just stick to taking up a full table and enjoying myself. I can always order a little more to eat to pick up the slack. I do like the idea of the single table, though. You may be on to something!"
Franklin W. of Buffalo agrees -- in a way:
"Dear Janice: In reference to your column regarding solo dining. I am also a 'loner' who travels solo and as a result dines alone. I haven't really encountered any resistance from staff and I always leave a larger tip.
"I was on a business trip in Vermont years ago and stayed at a hotel whose restaurant offered a 'hospitality' table for solo diners. If you opted to, you would sit at a table with other solo diners. I found it a very enjoyable experience and am surprised that it never has caught on, especially in restaurants that would cater to the business traveler."
Meanwhile, Sue S. of Cheektowaga sees no problem at all:
"Just wanted to let you know I dine alone quite frequently, at least once per week, if not twice. Before my daughter moved out of state, we would try and have lunch out at least one day a weekend. Since she has moved, I still enjoy a nice Saturday lunch after a tough week of work. I have visited many local establishments, both chains and local eateries. I cannot remember any time that I was made to feel uncomfortable or offered a much-too-large table. The only time I was offered bar seating was if it was a long wait for a table. I was always treated with respect and as a valued customer; some servers go out of their way to make me feel at ease.
"I always appreciate a kind and efficient server and tip probably way more than I need to, but I don't want them to feel like a table for two would offer them more in the way of a gratuity. Just hope this helps people who are afraid to dine out by themselves."
* * *
And then the Aug. 4 column about prix fixe meals brought forth many suggestions.
Fran of Buffalo suggested the Casa Antica Restaurant, 490 Center St., Lewiston, which offers a three-course meal every day between 5 and 6 p.m for $20: soup or salad, choice of four entrees and four desserts.
And from Ed in Cheektowaga:
"Dear Janice: After reading your article on restaurants offering prix fixe menus, I felt compelled to write you. My wife and I recently enjoyed an excellent meal with impeccable service at Russell's (6675 Transit Road, Lancaster)."
Russell's "dinner for two" is $35 per person, and includes soup or salad, entree with side dish of your choice and dessert, plus coffee or tea.
Send questions and requests to firstname.lastname@example.org