Ever feel like you’re tired of listening to your friends’ mundane dramas? There’s only so much a person can take of listening to whines about exes, backstabbing besties and the politics of Instagram likes. So why not sack off your friends and dine out on your own? Yes, if someone told us this a while back, we would think they were insane too. But that was before we discovered the trend for ‘communal dining’ in restaurants across London. Check out our guide to 5 Of The Best Places To Eat With Strangers below and embrace your awkward social skills – you might even make a Facebook friend or two.
Bakery feat. communal table dining
The first on our list of 5 Of The Best Places To Eat With Strangers is this tour de force of great baking, which is part of a global chain that was established in Brussels back in 1990. A focal point of the restaurant is the 20-seater wooden table in the centre of the bare-brick dining room, so you can break bread with new found friends. The food on offer includes organic sourdough, served alongside organic egg salad with olive oil, wild capers and anchovies and chicken curry with harissa chutney.
The Englishman’s Italian
When a restaurant’s name references the indiscretions of a certain Italian political figure, you know it’s going to be tongue in cheek. This place is packed with cheesy and cheeky Italian paraphernalia, from Roman busts on the walls, to vintage mopeds suspended from the ceiling, all set to a backdrop of live music. The food is all cured meats, bruschetta and slices of pizza and there are dedicated clusters of tables for eating, so that you can make some equally cheeky friends.
Where: 37 Battersea Bridge Road, Battersea, London, SW11 3BA, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Imperial Wharf (0.6 miles)
This place is not for the faint hearted, in more ways than one. The setting is more like a nightclub than a restaurant. The graffiti is occult themed, most of the staff are heavily tattooed and the music is blaring. Don’t worry though, there’s communal tables so you can make some new friends to comfort you during this scary experience. The food is equally as tough, with dishes including crunchy-coated ‘bingo wings,’ cheese steaks, hot dogs and unbeatable burgers. So if you consider yourself a tough-nut, get down to meat liquor – you won’t regret it.
The pun is strong with this one
This Japanese Izakaya bar and restaurant is a favourite with Londoners and for good reason. The restaurant offers Japanese drinking food, delivered in a relaxed environment and featuring DIY filled steam buns; you can choose from a variety of meats and fish that are all cooked and served in different ways, with a different sauce or marinade and a different pickled vegetable. Although there are private tables around the edges, we recommend sitting on the long, communal tables in the middle. This way, everyone gets stuck in together and it feels like a much more authentic Japanese dining experience!
An attack on the senses, but the good kind
The Soho location of this famous chain has all the Ottolenghi trademarks, such as the salad platters you get on arrival and a menu that celebrates bold flavours. However, one difference is the informality of the communal dining downstairs, where two long canteen tables look onto the theatre of the open kitchen. So you can enjoy some great grub while making new friends, plus, talking about being able to see your dishes being made is a pretty good conversation topic to break the ice!