my husband & i will be in new york sat sept 30 & sun oct.1. i have been trying to book reservations for 3 days now. does anyone have any tips (besides greasing the maitre'd) for scoring reservations at any times other that 5 o'clock or 10:30 p.m. or do i have no chance in h*ll given the short notice. i've tried the gramercy tavern, babbo, aquavit and a couple others i cannot remember.(i didn't even bother with nobu). i did get a booking at orso on 46th street. has anyone ever been there? is it good? i am looking for any GREAT suggestions...great food and a great atmosphere (i.e funky +/or romantic. am i asking the impossible??? help!! thank you in advance.
Recently, I have had success getting last minute reservations at Picholine and Le Bernardin.
(Both incredible restuarants...) I think that the midtown places tend to be a bit easier than the downtown places, which are "hipper"... I would give some of these more "staid" places a try.
Saturdays are notoriously tough even with advance notice. Sunday should ease up. I can say with certainty that we (Gramercy Tavern) offer a wait list that many guests are booked from. I have to assume Babbo & Aquavit do as well. Put yourself on these lists and do not be shy about checking in. As I posted on the general board, no shows and cancellations happen each and every evening. Also, if you are two people, just showing up is offers a strong chance of getting a seat at any spot without greasing the Maitre d' - Christopher
Sundays may be easier, but the problem is that many restaurants are closed on Sundays. I would keep trying--although the hottest restaurants may be impossible to get in on a Friday or Saturday on such short notice, the proliferation of new restaurants in NYC in the past year means that there are a tremendous number to choose from--and everything can't possibly be booked up. Anything that hasn't gotten a lot of press lately would be a place to start.
In my experience, waiting lists are often completely ignored. One exception, but this was for a Tuesday. I wanted to go to Danube on short notice, and was told the main dining room was full. They booked me for the private dining room upstairs (they use it for regular dining sometimes), and told me they'd call if something opened up in the main dining room. I brushed it off, but they actually did call with an opening.
I think the more likely way to get in, though, is to call your top places the afternoon before you want to go and ask if they had any cancellations or confirmations that didn't pan out. I've been occasionally added in this way.
Also, you might ask your top picks whether they save one or two tables for "walk-ins" (I believe that Esca, for instance, saves a number of tables). In that case you might have a chance if you just show up.
I think if I were you, I'd find a less hot restaurant at which you'd be happy to dine, make a reservation, and try the ones you really wanted the day before. If you do get in to one of your top choices at the eleventh hour, do remember to cancel your B-list reservation as soon as possible.