PEOPLE enjoy a meal at a city restaurant and loud chatting along with laughter can be heard.

There’s nothing unusual in that, but what is different to other restaurants is that nobody is looking at a phone.

Technology has become a huge part of our everyday lives, and research has found that it is damaging relationships because people become less satisfied with their partners and more jealous.

As someone who uses a mobile phone for work and personal use I do spend more time that I should on my phone. I have been told to put my phone down by friends and family members more than once at the dinner table and I have tried to give myself a technology detox, without much success.

mEAT Bar & Grill, located on Clytha Park Road in Newport, have started technology free ‘date nights’ that are aimed at restoring the art of conversation.

Dave Roberts and his wife Christa started their own tech free nights when they noticed their own son was spending a lot of time on his phone.

Every Thursday the family would go out for a meal where tech is banned and they will “just talk rubbish”.

The success of their family nights got the family wondering if others felt the same way. So they thought they would try the idea at the restaurant.

I was convinced to attend the night, in the name of journalism, and was excited about the prospect of a nice evening out. But then the reality started to sink in.

No Facebook, no Instagramming food, no sharing photos on Twitter - this was going to be harder than I thought.

I arrived at the restaurant, which is a short walk from Newport train station, with a date, my appetite and my two phones.

We chose a table and then I voluntarily put my mobile phones into a paper bag which was waiting for us next to our cutlery.

My date for the evening also put his phone into a bag, although he was a lot more willing than I was.

Once our usual small talk was done, we looked at the menu and sat in silence as we tried to decide on something to eat.

Five minutes in and I was already reaching for my phone to check us in on Facebook. I also wanted to check to see if a friend had replied to a message I’d sent earlier, but I realised it wasn’t urgent so got back to my date.

We looked at the menu and chatted about our day. The hardest thing was not being able to illustrate a story I was sharing about a friend with a photo she had shared on Facebook.

I would say, “Did you see that on Facebook” and then wanted to show what I was talking about to my date, but then I’d realise that my phone was out of bounds.

Burgers and dirty fries were our choice for our meal and after we gave our order, and had a good chat to the waiter about the most popular burgers, we sat and chatted about our surroundings and noticed the different types of people that were there, from a group of young girls on a night out to a father and son.

We also noted that people were talking and laughing consistently, rather in bursts as you hear in most restaurants.

Without phone breaks it seems that the flow of conversation was easy and people seemed more focused on each other.

There were a few slight quiet moments, but the restaurant have created sheets of questions to help diners interact with one another.

These questions included ‘If a movie was made about your life who would you like to play you and who would sing the soundtrack?’

We learnt new things about each other, like our worst jobs and what superpower we would like to have.

I did find myself making mental notes of things to Google, including Kelly Brook’s age (37 in case you’re wondering) and it was hard to keep track of time because I would usually use my phone to tell the time.

But otherwise it was an enjoyable evening with some good food and good company.

People did turn up to the restaurant without booking and there was a few glances when a newly arrived customer’s phone rang. But they joined in the night too, putting their phones aside and enjoying the conversation.

The experience was a good one, and technology free dinners are something we are now considering having once a week in our own home.

For more information about mEAT Bar & Grill’s technology free evenings visit or search for them on Facebook and Twitter.