As a mother, alone time is virtually non-existent. I have one child. She is a year and a half old. Everything that I used to love to do alone is now done with my child. Going to the bathroom. Bathing. Sleeping. Eating. Especially eating. My favorite activity in the entire world is dining alone. It’s the ultimate decompression. I am not forced to participate in conversation. I can sit and stare and decompress from my week, or my day, or my last hour, and just be with me. This is something that I knew I would have to mostly give up as a mom, in part anyway, and for a little while.
She is of the age now that I feel I can leave for a few hours at a time and get to experience my favorite pastime, albeit a tamer version since I must go home and be responsible for keeping another human alive. A while back, the first place I decided to go, alone, and released back into the world postpartum was Café Degas. That said, the first hour that I stole away from my child, at perhaps 8 weeks old, was a test for us all. I could not stay away any longer than that one hour and it was the first time my husband was alone with an infant. An hour was enough. Now, more than a year later, I came back to Café Degas. This time more than okay to leave for a couple hours or more and so excited to dine alone. Specifically, French dining, outside overlooking esplanade avenue.
I tend to dine early whether for lunch or dinner. I will arrive probably an hour earlier than typical diners. This has treated me well during the pandemic. I am mostly alone, and it reads like a private dining experience that I could never truly afford. At Café Degas, specifically, when you arrive for say an 11:00 am lunch, you can say may I please have a table on the small, charming deck outside the bar. This is the best seat in the house, in my opinion. You are under the inexplicably French café canopy, with quaint, round, floral clothed café tables, the view of a neighborhood park across the road, with a palm tree and the slight view of Canseco’s to take you out of your French fantasy and snap you right back to New Orleans. I have always loved the solo dining experience because of its ability to transport. If I have a craving for French cuisine, I can oblige my imagination and my craving in Café Degas (or several other delectable French restaurants in our city). But Café Degas integrates nature in a way that calls for the countryside but offers the option of cityscape—the best of both worlds.
A lunch at Café Degas, pour Moi, is exactly how I’d imagine an afternoon in Paris would turn out. An 11:00 am arrival with an espresso and perusal of the wine menu. Deciding on the Sancerre, I wait for the first pour and placement of the perfectly baked French bread before ordering mussels and pomme frites. People watching is my favorite part, even when arriving so early. If you are seated at the aforementioned table, you will enjoy the people watching perspectives of Esplanade Avenue and Ponce de Leon and the comings and goings of wine and coffee shop patrons, the yelling of proprietors at drivers for blocking driveways, and the music choices of the many as they take their moment alone, in their vehicles, to blare their expression. Dining alone is simply the most relaxing hobby one can have. You should try it sometime.