Welcome to Ask Eater, a column from Eater New York where the site’s editors, reporters, and critics answer specific or baffling restaurant requests from readers and friends. Have a question for us? Submit your question in this form.
I need a good place to have a tough, and potentially teary, convo with a close friend to talk about her shitty behavior. Basically, I’ve known this guy since college and it’s turning romantic, but my friend — who knew this — went and slept with him anyway. What’s a place with atmosphere so that no one can eavesdrop (not Tao, or something that clubby), but also quiet enough to hear each other? (Truly there is nothing worse than trying to have a serious conversation over “Walking in Memphis.”)
Confronting a Friend
First of all, I’m sorry you have to have that conversation. Props for having the guts to talk about it seriously in the first place — frankly, most people are avoidant and would rather pretend like nothing happened instead of dealing with real shit.
As someone who has dealt with an inordinate number of difficult conversations with friends in the last year, my biggest recommendation is to go somewhere that means absolutely nothing to you, and a place where you’ll never need to reasonably return to again. You don’t know how the conversation will go, and if it goes poorly, going back to the restaurant again will only remind you of something sad, at least for a little while.
Every time I walk past Franklin Park in Crown Heights, I remember the summer night that I left in tears because my then-boyfriend had met the girl who he’d eventually cheat on me with. If I ever bike by the coffee shop Abbotsford Road in Gowanus, I recall the time I had to tell a good male friend about the night that he ruined our relationship by inappropriately touching me, after he’d claimed that he’d blacked out the whole thing. A survey of Eater staffers shows that people have a tendency to remember the places where these things happen; a breakup at Tuome, a friend argument at Llama Inn. The restaurants and cafes and bars aren’t necessarily ruined forever — but will you really be clamoring to return?
Go to a dive bar or a coffee shop, preferably one that’s not in your neighborhood for work or for home. Better yet, make it a Starbucks, or any fast-food chain restaurant that doesn’t hold any particular significance for you. A lower-volume but spacious McDonald’s like the one on Ninth Street in Park Slope, or the rooftop at the Chick-fil-A in FiDi in the evening, when the crowds slow down, may work.
They’re usually filled with people, but most diners aren’t lingering for long enough to eavesdrop. No one will kick you out if the conversation ends up running longer than you expect, and more importantly, there’s no table service. I just heard a horror story where, in the course of a tear-ridden argument between two friends, an insensitive server kept coming back to the table and ultimately said that she hoped the tears were not a result of the restaurant’s food. Lol, nope.
Good luck out there, and screw that guy,