To begin with, unless you're Thurston Howell III or P. Diddy, it is kind of novel to have servants for the evening--someone to help us make our choices, to carry our food, to refill the empty cocktail glass in our hand, to wash up afterward. But more than that, eating out almost always means eating like someone else. We walk into each new restaurant a stranger, ready to play a role. Are you normally a softhearted, animal-petting mensch with a heart of gold? While eating out you can, if you like, become a nitpicking bastard driving the waiter to the nuthouse. Walk into a restaurant alone with a good book, and you're transformed from a heartbroken loner into a confident intellectual with a taste for good wine and good books... (actually, restaurant professionals never fall for this one, but keep trying anyway).
In the interest of further investigating these transformations, we, the culinary empaths at The Stranger, dispersed to local restaurants to eat like other people. In so doing we answered the hard questions: Where would Ted Nugent eat if Ted Nugent came to Seattle? What Seattle suburb would best meet the dining needs of a 14th-century maiden? How did one man regain his lost adolescence simply by dining at a Denny Regrade diner? How will Martha do in the pokey if she doesn't like peanut butter? (Not well, according to our dining critic currently embedded at McNeil Island Corrections Center.)
We've also put together a special dining guide to help you find the right restaurant for the roles we know you're dying to play. In no time at all, you'll be eating your way to a new you. SARA DICKERMAN