Noma in Copenhagen. Eleven Madison Park in New York. Tenku RyuGin in Hong Kong. Every city has at least one must-visit restaurant that no holiday would be complete without dining in. However, these are always the restaurants that are the hardest to get a table at.
Self-confessed foodie and blogger Sinta Pandoria of Her Favourite Food offers her top tips to help you secure a table at the most coveted restaurants in any city you visit.
1. Book in advance
It almost goes without saying that the most foolproof way to secure a table is to book well in advance. In some cases, it is good practice to prioritise booking a spot at the top restaurants alongside booking your hotel and transfers and tickets to attractions.
2. Be prepared to queue
No matter how much in advance you plan, there are some restaurants that do not take reservations. This often results in long queues outside their premises, indicating that it is the “place to be”. In these cases, it is best to embrace it and join the queue. Use it as an opportunity to talk to the locals and peruse the menu.
3. Go off peak
Just like public transport, restaurants also have peak times, and the best way to get a table without a reservation is to avoid these slots. For example, consider having breakfast later than normal, or turning up for lunch at either 12pm on the dot or after 2pm, as by this time the main rush should be over. The best time to nab a table for dinner is usually before 6pm or after 9pm.
4. Give them a call
These days, many people use websites as the ultimate source of information, but this isn’t always the case, especially when it comes to restaurant reservations. Sometimes a restaurant’s website claims there are no tables available for large blocks of time, but after giving them a quick call, you’ll often find that you are able to book a table at your time and date of choice with ease. So it’s always worth giving them a call.
5. Sit at the bar
Many restaurants don’t pre-book the bar area and leave it open for walk-ins. Although traditionally this hasn’t been seen as a prime place to eat, it’s one of the best spots to fully enjoy the dining experience. Often the bar area will allow views into the kitchen, so you get a behind-the-scenes peek. You also get direct access to chefs and waiters, meaning you’ll get priority service and a chance to get the best food recommendations from the chefs themselves.
6. Book with a group
Sometimes it can be near impossible to secure a table for two at a top restaurant. However, this doesn’t mean that they don’t have any space. Restaurants will often keep larger tables free for big groups, and many places now have a private room that is separate from the main dining area, which can be booked for groups at no extra cost. These are more likely to have availability and can be a good way of getting a spot at that elusive restaurant. So gather a crowd and take over a private dining space.
– TEXT BY SINTA PANDORIA
This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.