tables for one

We are smitten with Tables for One, reviews of imaginary restaurants, dreamed up by designer Evan Johnston using the nom de plume A. Pontius. We are charmed by Salé, where “salt is nowhere to be found in the food, nor can you find it in a the familiar little container on the dining table. That’s because the dining table, and plates, and chairs, are actually made of salt itself.”

…and especially love Acoustia:

“We don’t serve food,” the chef and sound designer for Acoustia explained to a passerby who was baffled by the specials for the evening, “We serve sounds.”

Going to the site spurs our own fantasies of wonderfully eccentric restaurants designed to feed other senses.

But we were especially touched to discover how Tables for One came about, in an email from Johnston himself, a long time reader of ‘improvised life’. The subject line read ‘Inspiration and Improvisation – – Thank You’

I wanted to tell you about my own improvisation. I’m a writer, designer, occasional illustrator, and I hold a nice day job doing production work for some very lovely books. I’ve been doing this for a long time. It’s a good, varied life, but as with anything else, there are challenges. And one of those has been trying to find my own voice.

I was reading The New Yorker, looking at the restaurant review column, and thinking about how a review can be its own experience. Just as a writing exercise, I started writing a restaurant review for a place that didn’t exist. It was about a paragraph, I didn’t know what to do with it. But I knew that I was very comfortable recognizing them as an improvisation, because at this point I was reading your work and just getting used to the idea of simply trying different things.

Two months ago I was looking at them and realized that I wanted to create a little world for all of them, and so I began working on Tables for One – – it’s a parody of the New Yorker’s Tables for Two, but also just it’s own thing – – restaurant reviews from another New York City:

Our hope was that regular reading of ‘the improvised life’ might actually orient one’s head to the idea of following uncharted paths and trying out ideas, to becoming comfortable with improvising. But we never dreamed of the kinds of creations, like Johnston’s imaginary restaurants, that it might encourage.

Thanks a million, Evan!

Related posts: creative process: doing this-or-that ‘in your head’
if brainstorming doesn’t work, what does?
‘where good ideas come from’
looking behond the obvious

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5 replies on “‘table for one’s fab imaginary-restaurant reviews

  1. This is meant to tout your horn, not mine, but last night, come dinner time, I had nuthin’ I stood in front of the fridge, and began to pull out what veggies I did have, and began working toward a ham-less carbonara, intending to use scallions instead of peas as my green thing, and after sauteeing shallots and garlic, I decided to add a can of organic diced tomatoes. Then a little more olive oil, then some cream, and that called for some white wine. I tossed the fettucine that had boiled with some parmesan, lots of pepper, and the chopped scallions. Bill said it was my best ever pasta dish. I said it was thanks to The Improvised Life–just went with the flow and used what was on hand. Thank you Sally!

  2. Because I’ve been on a tight budget for many years I’ve had to be improvisational, but your blog has definitely expanded my definition of the word and its applications in a good way. Life is one big improv!

  3. Love this idea. The description for Sale’ sounds like it should be an entry in Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities.

  4. Wow, what a wonderful flow of one idea to another as you listened to “what was called for”, to make The Best Pasta Dish Ever. I am very very happy to know that Improvised Life was there with you. Thank you, Andrea.

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