We are pretty minimalist and don't have a lot of toys at our house. DS is very independant with play, invents games, and enjoys pretend cleaning and pretend yardwork without being prompted. He also makes up games to play with our two dogs.
I really think it depends on the child's temperment.
We always eat together. Sometimes I will make something specifically for DS (20 mo) but only when I know for certain he won't eat what we are having.
Sometimes DS will be finished before we are and will ask to get down but we make him set at the table until everyone is finished eating. Of course we usually hurry up to finish because I couldn't expect him to sit quietly for 10 or 15 minutes after he is done.
I can't imagine not eating with my children. My family...
DS is 20 mos and I think about a night away, too. Even though I fantasize about taking a bath and sleeping in a big cushy hotel bed, I know I would just lay there and stare at the ceiling and miss DS! He would probably be okay (not great, but oka), but I would be a total wreck.
My DS is 20 months old and does not watch much television. Some days if one of us is feeling droopy we might cuddle up and watch Wild Kingdom on Animal Planet or something similar, but that is not very often.