Dining With Reservations

In life I have a few simple rules. I don’t do: babies, certain suburbs …or heights.

With dining I have some similar guidelines of don’t.  I avoid restaurants that don’t take reservations, don’t take credit cards and have communal tables. If perchance I hit the trifecta then the chances of me crossing the threshold are pretty slim.

The reservation thing is a real sticking point with diners and restaurateurs alike.

I have commiserated with the guys at the excellent Restaurant II in Brisbane when a party of twenty or more just didn’t show.  No call – not a peep of an apology – and unreachable on the contact phone.  That’s twenty covers that they could have otherwise taken bookings for instead of turning people away.

Brisbane is a different kettle of fish than say Melbourne or Sydney when it comes to laying down the law with clientele.  In the north it would be abhorrent to diners to be asked to leave a credit card number as security for large bookings as they can do south of the border.

Three hatted Vue du Monde in Melbourne takes no chances. Its website is very clear on its reservation policy. “For all dinner reservations we require a credit card number to secure the booking. We do not process a deposit however should you need to cancel your reservation or reduce the numbers in your party you must give us at least 24 hours notice. Failure to do this will incur a cancellation fee of $150 per person cancelled…”

The other alternative is to have a no reservations at all policy which means you as a diner could be hanging around the bar – or a neighbouring bar – progressively bluntening your appetite, running up a bar tab and slowly getting mutant while waiting for a table that the restaurant can make fit the number of your party.

Then there are the silly operators within the conventional reservation system.  That’s where a reservation wouldn’t be worth the paper it is printed on – had they actually bothered to write it down. Or worse still those establishments that go through the process of taking the call and writing down the name, time and party size details and subsequently ignoring it when you roll up at the appointed time with guest in tow.

Several Chinese restaurants in Sydney fall neatly into this last category. In my experience the incidence of this occurring becomes increasingly more likely if they profess to have a bent for seafood and are in Chinatown or nearby. That’ll be a 30 to 45 minute wait (but we’ll keep you guessing) – and hold the apology!

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