I wanted to try some traditional Estonian food, and my tour guide suggested Restoran Vanaema Juures or Grandma’s Place. It served a wide array of hearty meals from the area, and I was excited to check it out.
A Malaysian guy I met on the tour decided to join me on my food journey. He was only in Tallinn for the day and wanted to take in as much culture as possible. Together we wandered the winding roads of Tallinn’s Old Town until we finally came across Restoran Vanaema Juures’ unassuming entrance.
When we descended into the cellar dining room, the stone walls and ceiling surrounded us. The dimly lit tables and small space created an intimate atmosphere, which was odd for a meal in the middle of the day. I suppose it would be nice for dinner or perhaps a shared meal with someone you’ve known longer than two hours.
Still, we pushed ahead with our desires to experience traditional Estonian food. For lunch, I chose the beef tenderloin and my friend had the elk stew, which was one of the restaurant’s specialties. Both dishes were large and filling, especially when served with potatoes, carrots and other vegetables. The sauce that accompanied my beef was rich but could have been more flavorful in my opinion. My Malaysian lunchmate enjoyed his stew, which apparently didn’t taste too gamey.
Over lunch we chatted about our travel plans and the reasons that brought us to Estonia. All in all, having lunch with a guy I just met wasn’t too weird. Over the years I’ve learned not to feel so awkward about it, because chances are high that I won’t know anyone wherever I am. That’s part of the excitement of solo travel.
But, having lunch with someone you’ve just met is never completely comfortable no matter who or where you are. How would you feel having lunch with a stranger? Any go-to conversation starters when meeting new people?