Best Place to Eat Out Alone

The Crow's Nest

On This American Life's Episode 245, "Allure of the Mean Friend," Ira Glass conducts a sly experiment to see if niceness pays, literally: Two waitresses are bugged with microphones and encouraged to be sweet, attentive and friendly to a few tables while practicing neglectful and impatient service with others. The result? The overlooked tables left significantly larger gratuities than the spoiled ones, which in turn generally tipped closer to the standard 15 percent. You might conclude that humanity's eagerness to please is strong enough to reverse the server/servee dynamic. We prefer to view Glass' research as proof that sometimes folks just want some one-on-one time with their cheeseburger, so hold the artificial pleasantries and incessant interruptions. Which brings us to the Crow's Nest, whose name itself evokes the consummate image of flying solo, and whose servers have, equally appropriately, mastered that crucial, fragile balance of courtesy, efficiency and minding their own damn business. They will answer your questions, take your order, bring your food and come back to make sure everything's, well, shipshape. They will do so pleasantly. But they won't trifle. Instead, they leave you to your fish and chips and the pleasure of your own company — or, if you prefer, to the diversion of whichever film or sporting event is being projected on the bar wall that day.

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