On the spectrum of post-pandemic experiences that we’re most looking forward to, “dining out” ranks up there with “vacation in Fiji.” But, as restaurants around the world begin to reopen, it’s clear the traditional concept of dining out has changed considerably. One Swedish restaurant has taken social distancing and self-isolation to the extreme.
Situated 200 miles from Stockholm, Bord For En — literally “Table for One” — is a pop-up concept unlike any we’ve seen. As the name implies, the “restaurant” (We use that term loosely) is just a single chair at a single table in the middle of an open field. There are no other guests and the sole diner is not even allowed to bring a date. To further that isolation, there is no waitstaff either. Instead, food is sent by a traditional picnic basket down a cable connected to a nearby kitchen window. According to the official website, “Perhaps it is the only dining room in the world that is completely secured against Covid-19.”
The owners want the space to encourage each diner to self-isolate in a meaningful, introspective way. “We might be isolated, but do we spend time with ourselves? This is an opportunity to do that. You are worth spending time with,” co-owner Linda Karlsson said in an interview with CNN.
The menu features a single three-course meal of local delicacies: Traditional, Swedish-style hash to start, followed by a vegetarian-friendly main course, and finished with a ginned-blueberry and iced buttermilk dessert. Fruity seasonal mocktails are also available on request. Most surprising is the lack of fixed prices. Instead, diners pay what they can. Bord For En’s owners aren’t looking to turn a profit, but rather to help anyone looking for a bit of escape, mentally, emotionally, and financially.
Just three months ago, this might have sounded like a publicity stunt or a strange social experiment. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, however, many of us have been stuck indoors for weeks or longer. With Bord For En’s idyllic atmosphere in a warm Swedish meadow surrounded by crisp Nordic air and blissful silence, plus a gourmet meal, it sounds like a veritable culinary vacation.
In an effort to reopen as soon as possible, restaurants are taking extreme measures to protect their customers and employees from infection. Many are only allowing curbside pickup or delivery. Some are removing up to two-thirds of their seating to ensure proper social distancing for diners. One Dutch restaurant is even testing personal quarantine “greenhouses” limited to just two or three diners in enclosed pods. In that context, Bord For En doesn’t sound all that unusual.
The Bord For En pop-up restaurant opened May 10 and is expected to run through August 1, 2020. It goes without saying that reservations are required.
If hopping a flight to Sweden isn’t in the cards right now, just know that isolation can be a good thing. Check out our best tips for staying physically and mentally well while stuck indoors.
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