I love to sit alone at a restaurant or a cafe and read a book. When I was a kid, I’d see someone doing this and feel so sorry for them I’d want to go sit with them. As an adult, if some kid did that I’d think it’s cute, but prefer to be left alone. I love a good lit lunch.
For me food and restaurants are linked to books. On our a recent trip to Williamsburg, VA, I couldn’t help but notice the abundance of literary references and motifs in the local restaurants.
Here are just a few.
Food For Thought
I stole the name of this blog from this restaurant, which doesn’t just center it’s theme on books but books that make you think. It had my favorite book – Atlas Shrugged front and center over the waiting room seating inside. Large letters hang from the walls and spell the word THINK.
Quotes from great literary minds sprawl across the walls and stacks of books are on display. The restaurant even has cards at the table to foster conversations about thoughts and literature.
The Hounds Tale
In terms of theme, this one was really all about the dogs. But, it does have “tale” in the name in that it’s focused on stories about dogs. Don’t ask me why a cat video was playing on loop on the TV then. Still I appreciate the nod to stories and books.
The tiny cafe serving excellent tapas (probably our best meal in Williamsburg) is more subtle in it’s literary love. It pops in small details – a typewriter holding the menu or greeting you at the door with a lamb in bunny ears on top.
There are walls papered in pages from books. You even receive your check in an old library book.
My favorite literary touch? The giant Maya Angelou poem scrawled across the top of the bar.
Why food and literature?
We don’t have these kinds of places near me. I wish there were more. Some of these, especially Culture Cafe would be great places to sit and not just read but also work on my writing projects, including my sequel to The Travelers.
So, why so many lit-themed restaurants in Williamsburg? Is it just because it’s a college town, housing I think the country’s oldest college – William & Mary? But even non-college towns have cafes and restaurants that pay homage to literature.
Why do we associate food and thought? Food is nourishment for our bodies, books are nourishment for our brains. It kind of make sense. Meals are also often where thought and discussion takes place, or used to, for many people. You tell stories when you’re having a meal with family and friends. It’s not so strange then to celebrate stories or even read at a table. They are kind of intertwined.
Other Places to Get a Food + Literature Experience
If you also enjoy restaurants that celebrate literature along with food, here are some other places that take this theme to extreme levels you might want to visit sometime, if you’re in town.
The Hobbit Café, Houston, Texas
Club Verne, Budapest