Traditional NYC-Style Restaurant Reviews Don’t Cut It

Common for men, uncommon for women, now more than ever, more women are venturing out on their own void of the traditional packs of women or only with a date. The Baby Boomer & Gen X women who are 35 and over have hit their stride and are more independent and affluent than any generation of women ever has been. They’re not going to the bars for ladies nights anymore either. They have the inclination, the attitude, and the moxy to go it alone to fine dining venues, and won’t let being alone stop them from enjoying life. Affluent, well-educated single women have become a demographic group that more and more restaurant owners are trying to attract as their spending habits are as much for clothing and cars as for sushi, steak and fine liquor.

The concept

While men have never been adverse to venturing out alone, women have traditionally waited for Room Service if traveling, taken a quiet table in some off beat spot, grabbed a quick bite, waited for their girlfriends, or just didn’t go out. Until recently, many restaurants conveyed almost a sense of pity when a single woman walked in the door. Other establishments have had an almost sense of astonishment at the lady’s bravery. Now, many are offering welcoming atmospheres, communal tables, and letting women know the best nights to visit their engaging establishments, not just to dine on fine entrees, but to relax and meet people.

Until recently, most fine dining or restaurant reviews have been tailored more for where to go with a date or business associate than on the concept of going there as a single. They talk only about the food and little about the atmosphere. These reviews often use the puffery and stuffy references to things such as the aged quality of the steak or the pizzazz of a sauce. Sure, this is very important to a foody, but for affluent single women, most want to know more about the crowd, the friendliness and comfort level of the setting.

The other review category is for bars or nightclubs, which rarely talk about the food but the party that starts late in the evening for a much younger audience. As a larger segment of our population grows older, there’s been a need to cover the blurring of activity that constitutes engaging dining and socializing, and to bridge the gap between the standard restaurant review and that of a nightclub review. In other words, if it is fun to go to a certain establishment, and if so, the specific nights that are most active for singles. Many restaurants have a night that’s often livelier than others where singles feel more welcome than being stuck in a small corner table all alone albeit for a magazine, or worse yet for a woman on business, to order room service due to being alone.

The solutions

To address the gap between restaurant review and bar review, new sources of information are cropping up. Several websites have sections for “single friendly” establishments, lounges, and are designed to specifically target the best restaurants on the best nights of the week. Other regional sites have cropped up as part of traditional newspaper and magazine sites, but it can be hard to really ferret out the information and get “in the know” so to say. If you were to call a restaurant, most will say every night is good in order to get patrons, but we know this just isn’t the case. For a single woman venturing out on your own, nothing is worse than to decide to go out to a fine dining venue and find 40 tables of couples squirreled away quietly talking. Then, to find out from the bartender that last night was the hot night.

At a recent women’s networking function held recently at a Ruth Chris’s on Long Island, one of these sites, ElleEatist got an overwhelming “Finally! What a great idea!” After this one rather small event attended by just 20 women, the site received a spike of interest with several hundred hits alone that night due to pass along readership. It seems that they’ve been waiting for this for several reasons – the site identifies places to go when they travel on business; with precious little free time, they want to know where to go to socialize & when; and lastly, several said it’s a great resource for where to go for first dates or meetings. The sites traffic picks up as the weekend gets closer.