News bites: What we’re reading

From burgers in Birmingham to the Good Food Guide, here’s what we’re reading about this month.

TheLittleVietKitchen

“You’ll leave inspired with your belly and your heart full.” The Girl Next Shore reviews The Little Viet Kitchen.

Simon Rogan’s L’Enclume named Britain’s best restaurant for fourth year in a row – The Guardian

ETM Group to open three new London sites (including City roof bar) – Big Hospitality

The burgers you must try in Birmingham – Birmingham Mail

Restaurants are neglecting their table customers for the sweet embrace of Deliveroo – Telegraph

Where to eat and drink in Soho – Londonist

The 10 best restaurants near Edinburgh’s Royal Mile – The Culture Trip

Got some food news or a restaurant review we should check out? Get in touch via twitter.

Enter our competition to win four tickets to Meatopia!

It’s National Burger Day! For one day only, you can get 20% off some of the UK’s best burgers at over 900 restaurants around the country. All you have to do is sign up.

To celebrate, we’re giving away four Sunday tickets (worth over £120) for Meatopia – a festival of meat, drink, fire and music at London’s Tobacco Dock. Spend the afternoon checking out the bands, tasting craft beer, and trying incredible dishes cooked by top chefs from Hawksmoor, Blacklock, The Quality Chop House and more.

MeatopiaTo enter, share a photo of the best burger you’ve ever eaten with @OpenTableUK on Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #MyBestBurger. It can be from a restaurant you love, a street food truck, or something you’ve cooked yourself. It doesn’t even have to be beef – show us your fried chicken burgers, shrimp patties, and veggie options!

You can submit one entry per social network each day until midnight on Monday 29th August. Be sure to read the terms and conditions. Winners will be announced on Tuesday 30th August – good luck!

Waterside dining: London’s best canalside restaurants

If you’ve had your fill of picnics and barbecues, why not soak up the last of the summer rays at one of London’s canalside restaurants? With the sun on your face and a glass of rosé in hand, you can escape the bustle of the city and relax over a meal with friends. Here are some of our top canalside dining destinations, including a new Italian trattoria in Hackney and a nautical eatery in Maida Vale.

Hungry for more? Check out our round-up of London’s best waterside restaurants.

Table for one: The art of dining alone #hackdining

Last year, we reported on the rise of solo dining in the UK and the changing attitudes of British diners. 87% of the diners we surveyed said they would have no problem dining out alone and only 7% would judge others for doing so. To continue the conversation, we’ve asked contributor Nevin Martell, a frequent solo diner, to share his solo dining tips perience for those who do so with a bit of trepidation. 

SoloDining“Table for one, sir?” – I get this question a lot. As a food writer, I dine out constantly to try new places and revisit familiar favorites. Though I love breaking bread with family, friends, and colleagues, it’s often not often possible to line up our schedules with my ever-present deadlines. And so I’ll find myself dining alone.

While many restaurants are thrilled to welcome solo diners, not every host makes it easy. Perhaps you sense they’re giving you a look of pity as they pick up a lone menu and lead you off to a table tucked away in a dark corner, which they think is what you want since they incorrectly assume you’re ashamed by your singleton status.

Despite any minor speed bumps that can come with solo supping, I enjoy it. The solitary time allows me to slow down for a little while, concentrate on the food, and maybe catch up on some email or make progress on my reading. It sounds oxymoronic, but it’s nice to get away from people in a room full of people. It’s the same reason why I go to bustling coffee shops packed with chattering hordes to get away from distractions when I’m writing.

However, for a long time, I didn’t like sitting across from an empty chair. I would spend most of the meal looking around nervously to see if people were staring at me, eat as quickly as possible, and often invent stories for the servers as to why I was dining alone. It took me years to realize it, but there is an art to eating alone. Here are six ways you can maximize your experience as a solo diner.

Don’t let people make you feel like you’re a social outcast.

You’re choosing to dine by yourself, so be proud of it. Own it. Think of the meal as some quality me time. If the host asks you the most judgmental of questions – “So, it’ll just be you?” – smile widely and respond, “I can’t think of anyone else I’d rather be with.”

Sit where you want, not where they want you to sit.

All too often, single diners are relegated to an end seat at the bar by the service station or the most undesirable table in the restaurant. If you see the host is leading you to one of these desolate hellholes, politely ask for another seat. This is the perfect time to enjoy the view, so ask for somewhere you can admire your surroundings or do some serious people watching.

Be as talkative or as quiet as you like.

Many servers see a single diner as either someone to pity or a potential conversationalist. In either case, this means they will talk incessantly. You might welcome the virtual company, but sometimes you’d rather spend your time with your thoughts, a good novel, or your Instagram account. In that case, simply tell them, “I’ve been looking forward to having a quiet moment. I’ll let you know if I need anything else.”

Don’t use it as a time to return voicemails.

There’s nothing more annoying that someone carrying on a boisterous phone conversation in a restaurant, so don’t be that person. Most people will talk in a louder-than-necessary voice and over share, ruining the atmosphere and serving as an unwanted distraction. Texting is fine – please, turn your ringer off – but wait for the trip home to make your calls.

Bring a distraction.

Whether that’s simply your phone or something more substantial, such as a magazine or a book, it’s okay to arm yourself with an amusement. I draw the line at plugging in headphones and watching a movie on my Kindle Fire or whipping out a deck of cards to play a few rounds of Solitaire.

Go out on a limb.

When you’re alone and a stranger, no one is expecting you to act a certain way, so feel free to be adventurous. Order a cocktail you’ve never tried, sample a dish outside your comfort zone, treat yourself to the tasting menu and savor every bite. Or splurge on a dessert you might normally eschew. And if you’re in the mood to chat, leave yourself open to conversations with your tablemates. I’ve met some wonderful people while dining alone, which never would have happened if I had a guest with me.

How do you roll when you dine alone? Do you take your surroundings in, distract yourself a bit with technology, or bond with your fellow diners? Let us know here or over on twitter.