The TV Din At Mealtime

Recently Kish and I went to a new restaurant near our home. It had gotten some good buzz, and we were looking forward to checking it out.

When we got to the place and sat at our table, our spirits sank. On every wall of the restaurant, including right above the booth where we we sat, there were TVs set to different stations. It’s part of a disturbing trend in which TV invades every nook and cranny of our existence, from doctor waiting rooms to elevators to restaurants.

When I was a kid, I liked to eat while watching the TV. Whether it was cereal and cartoons on Saturday morning or a Swanson’s TV dinner and sitcoms on a Thursday night, TV seemed a lot more exciting and interesting than a conversational meal with my family. Now I’m at the other end of the spectrum. If Kish and I are going out for dinner, we’d like a nice, quiet place where we can have a good talk and enjoy our food. We don’t mind a little background music, but being bombarded with the sounds and flickering images of banks of TV sets totally interferes with our enjoyment of the evening. And, I always wonder whether the TVs are designed to distract patrons from the quality of their meal.

In my view, restaurants need to make a choice. If you want to be a sports bar that shoots no higher than chicken wings, pizzas, and pitchers of beer, TV sets are fine. If you have pretenses of being a fine dining establishment, you should focus on the food — and expect and allow your diners to do so, too. That means no TVs.

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