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Tick tock, tick tock

Photo: Stock.Xchng

Eat the feck up and get the feck out.  Photo: Stock.Xchng

After hearing lots of talk about a relatively new restaurant in Dublin we thought it was high time to check it out. I also thought it might be review-worthy!

It was, but I’m not going to review it, instead I am going to take this opportunity to have a little rant about Dublin restaurants and their booking policies. Because it’s not just this place that does it, it seems to be anywhere that’s in any way popular or trendy. I called on a Saturday looking for a table on the Sunday evening and it went something like this…

Restaurant: What time would you like to come in at? (This question turned out to be entirely irrelevant!)

Me: 7.30 please.

Restaurant: We can give you 7 o’clock.

Me: Oh, could we have a table at 8 instead?

Restaurant: We can give you 9 o’clock.

Me: Right, so you only do sittings at 7 and 9?

Restaurant: Yes. (See first question, why even ask if you’re going to dictate when we can come in?)

Me: Well I guess we’ll take a 7 o’clock sitting then.

Restaurant: You need to be off the table by 9 o’clock.

There was nothing unpleasant about this exchange I suppose, apart from my inner dialogue of irritation. Anyway, it didn’t end there, they called me the following morning to confirm my booking, (I’d only booked the previous evening, was this really necessary??) and she said “You have a table booked from 7 o’clock to 9 o’clock” three times during the conversation. OKAY, I GET IT!! We will be gone by 9.

It was said again when we arrived into the restaurant. Sigh. It really tainted the dining experience for me, and after all that the place wasn’t so busy. We would have stayed and drank plenty more wine and probably ordered desserts but we were so put off by the constant badgering about how long we had the table for that we left, at 8.15. The food was good but I don’t want to review, or even name, the restaurant because I had such a (non-food related) bad taste left in my mouth.

Maybe I’m alone but being told we have to be off the table at a certain time just really bugs me, especially if you’re booking in advance. I don’t have a problem if I walk into a busy restaurant with no booking and they only have a table free for an hour and a half, we will be quick then, other people have booked, fair enough. I also think it simply doesn’t need to be said, unless I’m eating late I rarely lounge around a restaurant for longer than two hours, and, really, shouldn’t it be up to the restaurant itself to make sure your meal is served in a timely manner?

As far as I know, it’s the done thing in America, but I’ve never seen it anywhere on the continent, mainly France where I usually go on holidays, and the restaurant business there is doing justfinethankyouverymuch. What do you think readers? Does this bother you as much as it bothers me? I should probably learn how to meditate or something.


  1. I totally agree Rebecca. Restaurants should be thanking me for my custom and ensuring I have an enjoyable experience, not dishing out time limitations and practically ushering me out the door at the end of an allocated time slot. I would second your point that the restaurant itself inadvertently dictates the duration of your meal with speed of service etc and a well managed restaurant should subtly utilise this.

  2. That is awful!!! We probably would have walked out 😉 even in the US they won’t hassle you in words to leave… they pester you about buying more and if the answer is no then the check is promptly put in front of you!

  3. I agree completely. I haven’t rented a table, I’ve booked, in advance, to enjoy a meal and the ambiance. It’s very annoying an makes me feel rushed.

  4. Urgh, I hate that as well for the same reasons you mention.

    I really don’t think they can expect to get a tip then if they’re so keen on getting you out of there. That isn’t service, is it? Because it has already pissed you off and you’re already thinking about how much time you’ve got left to eat. You’re less likely to order more than 1, max 2 courses and a drink. How much would it have cost you per minute at that table?

    And yet they’re slow enough in getting you the bill when they’ve specifically told you to be off by a certain time, non? 🙂

    You sure you don’t want to name and shame? 🙂

  5. I absolutely hate this and if I’m told when booking that I have to leave by a certain time I say “Thanks but no thanks” and tell them I’ll book elsewhere. Restaurants should be glad of business especially at the moment and be thankful that people would want to stay longer and spend more. As I go out less and less these days, I try to enjoy it more and more so I definitely don’t want to be shooed out the door.
    Please name and shame!!!

  6. I think they could say this, just once however, not more than once. Absolutely not five or six times!

  7. And the most infuriating is when they put you under pressure beforehand but then take ages to bring you the menus, take your orders, bring you the food. Then rush you towards the end. It happened to us once, and the place was half empty. We gave them a ‘great’ review with everyone we know

  8. Firstly I plan on stalking you to find out which restaurant this is but secondly nope to the US doing this. They don’t. In fact they have tables booked every 15mins, generally from 5pm,and everyone (and I mean everyone) utilises OpenTable, which incidentally is genius.

    I’m all for eating late but sometimes 9pm is too late and 7pm too late.

    HATE set sittings!

  9. You have got to be thankful when these types of things are your problems in life. Praise the lord!!!

  10. Thanks for all the responses so far. Good to know that it isn’t just me who takes issue with this carry on, I’ll put the meditation aside for another day. There’ll be no naming and shaming I’m afraid as apart from this practice there was absolutely nothing else negative about the place so it’d feel very mean-spirited, and besides this is something that many restaurants are guilty of so it’s good to generate discussion!

  11. Totally agree Rebecca. If you book, you should have the table for as long as you like. No booking a second seating. If you leave with enough time for a second seating for a walk-in, great for them.

  12. While I’m sure it was annoying to be pestered like that, I can see it from the other point of view also.

    Imagine arriving with a group for a booking for the late sitting, and before being seated you had to wait around while three people who were in the middle of the restaurant nursed the dregs of their wine, so that your table can be put together.

    I have had this happen to me, and I’ve worked in a restaurant where they didn’t put time limits on tables, which led to long waits after the time of the booking before groups could be seated.

  13. I’m an American who has lived in Dublin for almost a year now. I’ve NEVER had this happen in America, but have had it at least 3 different times at 3 different restaurants here in Dublin. However, once, when I was booked in with a large group of American women at 7pm and told we needed to leave by 9pm they kindly lifted that restriction when they saw how much wine we were drinking and what we were spending on appetizers alone. Hmmm, I guess the quality of customer service depends on how much you’re willing to spend?

  14. This practice of telling us how much time we have to eat our food and drink our wine has been a pet hate of mine for many years. Eating out should be a relaxing sociable occasion as well as a culinary experience. Personally I like to eat early and more often than not I am happy to head home around 9.30 but please don’t tell me I must !! I am not renting space I am paying for a meal and wine, which I should be allowed to enjoy in my own time.
    I no longer book at Restaurants that tell me I must eat at 7pm … not 7.30 and need to have paid the bill and vacated the table by 9pm. It is downright rude when you think about it and I have never had this experience in any other country.