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Table for one (not)

Table for one (not)

Old Jun 27, 2017, 11:54 am
  #1  
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Table for one (not)

I've been trying to make restaurant reservations for a trip that begins at the end of this week. The online booking systems for several of the better restaurants where I'm going won't accept a booking for one--they return with "no table available" for every date, although tables for two can be booked.

One of the restaurants specializes in a sharing menu that maybe can't be served to a solo diner; the others have conventional menus. Is it worth emailing them to ask? They're in a country where people tend to be hospitable, although slow and unpredictable about answering email.

I did think of booking for two and just showing up alone. Not sure how well that would work.
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Old Jun 27, 2017, 12:14 pm
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Originally Posted by kochleffel
I've been trying to make restaurant reservations for a trip that begins at the end of this week. The online booking systems for several of the better restaurants where I'm going won't accept a booking for one--they return with "no table available" for every date, although tables for two can be booked.

One of the restaurants specializes in a sharing menu that maybe can't be served to a solo diner; the others have conventional menus. Is it worth emailing them to ask? They're in a country where people tend to be hospitable, although slow and unpredictable about answering email.

I did think of booking for two and just showing up alone. Not sure how well that would work.
I suggest contacting the restaurants directly, either by phone or email. The online systems can be unreliable. I recently tried to book a reservation for 2 and there was nothing available until 9:00 PM. When I increased the reservation to 4 (another couple asked to join us), I had more options.
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Old Jun 27, 2017, 12:50 pm
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Originally Posted by kochleffel

I did think of booking for two and just showing up alone. Not sure how well that would work.
You can say you are waiting for a date and then get some sympathy when you are stood up .

I eat alone on the road a lot but usually at the bar while reading a book (I feel kind of silly reading a book while eating at a regular dining room table).
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Old Jun 27, 2017, 1:02 pm
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I'd be tempted to book for two and then say that my friend/colleague was forced to cancel at the last minute but say that I didn't want to cancel the entire reservation at the last minute as it would not have been courteous to the restaurant.

However, some systems such as AmEx Fine Dining will charge for the people who no show at your table, so check the T&C carefully if a credit card or deposit is involved.

A *good* hotel concierge with connections to the restaurants might be able to help.

This thread has reminded me of the time a while ago when I booked a table for one in a rather nice restaurant in Georgetown (Washington DC). I showed up on time, properly dressed, and of course with my credit card, ready for a nice meal with wine. The restaurant refused to seat me alone in their regular dining room and instead made me take a table in their much less formal bar area, where a bunch of drunks (that I assume were overentitled young adult offspring from the embassy community) harassed me, including having the waiter deliver a message to me, complete with four letter expletives that could easily been interpreted as a personal threat. At that point, I left as soon as possible, insisting that the restaurant call a taxi for me immediately and escort me to the vehicle.
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Old Jun 27, 2017, 9:01 pm
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Originally Posted by kochleffel
I did think of booking for two and just showing up alone. Not sure how well that would work.
I've booked tables for four, and then when arriving, downsized to three. I did have an issue when in a group of five, the restaurant balked at seating us, but I could make reservations for six for 15 minutes in the future.
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Old Jun 27, 2017, 11:36 pm
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist
I'd be tempted to book for two and then say that my friend/colleague was forced to cancel at the last minute but say that I didn't want to cancel the entire reservation at the last minute as it would not have been courteous to the restaurant.

However, some systems such as AmEx Fine Dining will charge for the people who no show at your table, so check the T&C carefully if a credit card or deposit is involved.

A *good* hotel concierge with connections to the restaurants might be able to help.

This thread has reminded me of the time a while ago when I booked a table for one in a rather nice restaurant in Georgetown (Washington DC). I showed up on time, properly dressed, and of course with my credit card, ready for a nice meal with wine. The restaurant refused to seat me alone in their regular dining room and instead made me take a table in their much less formal bar area, where a bunch of drunks (that I assume were overentitled young adult offspring from the embassy community) harassed me, including having the waiter deliver a message to me, complete with four letter expletives that could easily been interpreted as a personal threat. At that point, I left as soon as possible, insisting that the restaurant call a taxi for me immediately and escort me to the vehicle.
Hmmm. I must wonder, given my own personal experiences, if this ugly incident occurred at Restaurant 1789.

Back to the OP's predicament...

Restaurant booking engines are notorious for disregarding the need for a solo traveler to eat. I don't even bother with them when I'm traveling on my own, which is 75% of the time. Instead, I always ask the hotel concierge to contact my desired restaurants directly, with always most satisfactory results.

A side note: about twenty years ago, I was anticipating on dining alone at Bangkok's splendid and beautiful China House restaurant. The lovely hostess, for whatever reason, seemed uncomfortable with this situation. Her solution? She summoned her equally lovely daughter, home from Pomona College, to come join me for dinner, courtesy of the restaurant. I have no problem dining alone; but, I must say that I really enjoyed the dinner conversation I had this charming young woman. It's such a wonderful memory!
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Old Jun 28, 2017, 2:29 am
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Where is the problem in dining alone? Or am I too European/Asian to think of this as a problem??
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Old Jun 28, 2017, 3:55 am
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The OP said "better" restaurants. Assuming they are popular perhaps it is that the restaurant doesn't want to forgo the income......by having one person where 2 could be seated?
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Old Jun 28, 2017, 7:41 am
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Update: one restaurant suddenly accepted an Internet reservation for one evening, with a choice of only two times, one acceptable to me. Another agreed when I inquired in email.
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Old Jun 28, 2017, 7:46 am
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist

This thread has reminded me of the time a while ago when I booked a table for one in a rather nice restaurant in Georgetown (Washington DC). I showed up on time, properly dressed, and of course with my credit card, ready for a nice meal with wine. The restaurant refused to seat me alone in their regular dining room and instead made me take a table in their much less formal bar area, where a bunch of drunks (that I assume were overentitled young adult offspring from the embassy community) harassed me, including having the waiter deliver a message to me, complete with four letter expletives that could easily been interpreted as a personal threat. At that point, I left as soon as possible, insisting that the restaurant call a taxi for me immediately and escort me to the vehicle.
I'm sorry you had that experience. I was in Georgetown last year, and decided to go for a nice meal by myself, booked through the concierge. The staff couldn't have been more accommodating, the owner checked on me, the waiter was attentive, they ensured I was at a good table (not shoved in a corner like some places when I dine alone). I'm struggling to recall the name, but if it comes to me I will let you know to try it next time.
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Old Jun 28, 2017, 8:07 am
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Originally Posted by gilbertaue
Where is the problem in dining alone? Or am I too European/Asian to think of this as a problem??
The problem depends on the restaurant. Some don't like taking up 2 or 4 top tables with only one person. Even recently in Puerto Rico, I walked in for my reservation, and the hostess asked if I'd like to sit at the bar instead. It was a nice bar, and not crowded, so I agreed.
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Old Jun 28, 2017, 1:39 pm
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Originally Posted by gilbertaue
Where is the problem in dining alone? Or am I too European/Asian to think of this as a problem??
I think it is kind of unusual in the states unless it is a diner or fast food place. Sometime when I see people dress very nice and dine alone, I am thinking he/she is either on a business trip or he/she is an assassin... or accountant... or all 3! (I just watched the Accountant)
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Old Jun 28, 2017, 7:51 pm
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Originally Posted by JBord
The problem depends on the restaurant. Some don't like taking up 2 or 4 top tables with only one person. Even recently in Puerto Rico, I walked in for my reservation, and the hostess asked if I'd like to sit at the bar instead. It was a nice bar, and not crowded, so I agreed.
I don't mind sitting at the bar when I'm by myself, as long as it isn't very crowded or loud.
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Old Jun 29, 2017, 9:39 am
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More discussion on this topic here
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Old Jun 30, 2017, 11:29 am
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Originally Posted by kipper
I don't mind sitting at the bar when I'm by myself, as long as it isn't very crowded or loud.
Agreed, as long as it's a nice bar and there's a decent seat available (for example not next to the wait staff pickup point).
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