The debate over whether a restaurant takes bookings or not has again resurfaced due to a torrent of new hip restaurants that don't take bookings but yet still managed to creat a lot of buzz amongst diners. I have waxed lyricals previously about restaurant bookings and their pros and cons.
My final verdict at the time was
So after weighing it all up, what's my final verdict. As much as I complain about it, I still want to be able to book at a restaurant. If I want to eat somewhere that night, I want to be guaranteed that I will eat there, unless there is some major disaster. I don't want to turn up and end up being disappointed, especially if it was a special occasion. No reservation restaurants have their place. They work well in crowded areas with lots of other restaurants I think. I wouldn't mind waiting for a particular restaurant with no booking, but if it took too long, I could just go to another restaurant close by that was available.
I still believe what I have written previously, and the latest article in The Age about no reservation restaurants back up what I thought, that no reservations work well for casual dining where there are a cluster of choices.
Some may see these no-reservations restaurants with their mostly youthful crowds as yet another sign of generation Y's inability to commit to anything, not even a restaurant. Yet it does seem that Melbourne's ever-widening embrace of more casual dining - and the fact inner-city restaurants and bars tend to gather in entertainment clusters - lends itself to a less structured night out.
Others have also blogged about the exact same issue, as all diners are faced with the decision of whether to wait for a table at a no reservation restaurant. Jackie wrote a post that linked to another opinion in The Sydney Morning Herald where Jordan Baker basically said that restaurants didn't take reservations because they can. The reply from Neil Perry to Baker's article shed some insight into how a restauranteur feels about the situation and gives another point of view.
It is all very interesting reading and I think at the end of the day, people's wallets speak the loudest. If by not taking reservations, a restaurants business decreases dramatically, I think they will change it. But as long as they are still able to attract patrons who are willing to wait, they can continue to not take bookings. I know that at times a no bookings policy works in my advantage and at other times it doesn't. Therefore, there is certainly room for restaurants without bookings in the Melbourne food scene. Now I just wish I could get into Cumulus Inc.
What are your opinions? Any horror no booking stories or positive experiences to share?