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Jan 10, 2008 12:10 PM

Question about French Laundry Reservation

Hi Chowhounders, I have a question and thought maybe you all could help me out. I somehow (miraculously) got a reservation at French Laundry through Opentable says that they only book 2 parties of 4 people a night for French Laundry through their site, one at 5:30pm and one at 9:15pm. The reservation they offered me was at 6:30pm for a table of 4.

My co-worker was telling me a story of her friend's father, who got a FL reservation, confirmed on their answering machine ahead of time, flew up from LA, got a hotel room for the night and everything, only to be told he had no reservation once he arrived. So now I'm paranoid.

I tried calling FL but they are closed through January 17th, which is only a few days before my reservation. I feel doubtful I will be able to get through once they reopen due to the high volume of calls. I left a message on their reservation hotline asking them to confirm with me that my reservation is booked but I also feel doubtful I will get a response for the same reason.

So my question is such- Have you ever booked a table with French Laundry through Opentable only to have them deny it when you arrive? Or is the info on Opentable (about 5:30 and 9:15 only) old and perhaps they are booking for other times as well now? Am I worrying for naught?

Thanks. I'm just really excited about this and want to make plans (confirm with friends, book a hotel, etc) and don't want to go through all that only to arrive and be turned down.

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  1. I would contact OpenTable about the discrepancy on their site and see if they guarantee the reservation.

    FL in my experience didn't return calls during their break. We ate there on the first day they opened. The food was amazing, but the service I think suffered from the first day back first reservation of the night...

    1. Definitely, contact and make sure they have the reservation correct. Let's just hope that someone didn't set their clock properly, or that it's 6:30 "your" time and not their time, and that all is well.

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      4 Replies
      1. re: sirregular

        Thanks jsaimd and sirregular. Just sent Opentable an email, although on their site they say that all FL questions should go straight to the restaurant itself so I'm worried they'll just refer me back to them. We'll see!

        1. re: rjf

          I would expect the FL to call and confirm reservations. So if you don't get a confirmation phone call it would be a concern.

          1. re: Scott M

            According to the French Laudry website and OpenTable

            Confirmation Policy
            The French Laundry Restaurant asks that you call three days prior to confirm your reservation @ 1.800.944.1224.

            Vacation or not, I would think this line would be available three days prior to your reservation.

            I don't use OpenTable often. Don't they have the option of printing your reservation. Also if you click on 'my profile' there is a list of upcoming reservations. It should be on there and you could print that out as well.

            1. re: Scott M

              When we made a reservation (via the telephone), we received a confirmation email from -- maybe you could try contacting them there. Their email also mentioned that you can now make a res through opentable, so that is a good sign for you.

        2. Our opentable French Laundry reservation was not at one of the listed lunch times and it was honored with no problems. Cancellations without waiting lists occassionally get put on opentable.

          2 Replies
          1. re: norjah

            I've never had a problem with Open Table. It's not my favorite method but obviously with some restaurants there is just no other viable choice. I used them to reserve a table last week at another restaurant and they immediatly sent an email confirmation that I printed. The French Laundry only does two seatings so the info about times on their web site is accurate. I hope it works out for you. It's even harder getting a table for two! :(

            1. re: Docsknotinn

              If you print up your confirmation on opentable of your FL reservation they will definitely honor it. I have never had a problem with opentable..I have been to
              Per se on opentable always bringing my printed opentable confirmation just in case. I wouldn't worry about it.

          2. Thanks everyone for your input. Opentable says it wasn't a computer error and that the restaurants control their spots so I'm just going to assume all is well and not stress out about it. I'm really looking forward to it!

            8 Replies
            1. re: rjf

              I'd show up at 5:30 local time not 6:30. Best of luck!

              1. re: Docsknotinn

                So the FL told me to call in December on Jan. 18 to make a reservation for the next two months. No one answered on that day. I called at least 20 times, my boyfriend much, much more (he likes to program his iPhone). Open Table was down as well. For the next six days I called and called and so did he and FL was either busy or did not return the messages we left. WTF? Is there some insider way to get a reservation at this place? I'm so disgusted I almost don't want to go. But I have a lot of fight in me, my curse.

                1. re: JillPickle

                  When I got my res, we called from 6 cell phones (for a res for 2, I just had people helping me) at the same time over and over --just hanging up on busy signals and calling them back again-- for 30 minutes starting at the minute they opened. On day 3 of this, we got a res. You just need to be persistent if you really want to go. I don't think it's a secret or a conspiracy or anything. I think as far as messages, you just can't make a res via a message, so they probably only return calls that ask questions, like for directions, etc.

                  1. re: JillPickle

                    While I am sure there are a mere *handful* of folks who have insider information to get reservations, for the rest of us, we are relegated to the phone number which has to be called relentlessly starting a few minutes before 10:00 a.m. and is a crap-shoot at best. Yes, it takes considerably perseverance AND flexibility. Just calling 90 days ahead of the exact date you are hoping for is no guarantee. The flexibility thing is very important -- many have known to call daily for weeks before getting a reservation... You only tried for six days!

                    1. re: Carrie 218

                      I see, I see now. This is the information I wanted. I'm not wasting my life calling them up anymore.Thanks, guys.

                      1. re: Carrie 218

                        It's two months, not 90 days, but otherwise, yeah. It's not that they're being difficult, it's simply a question of supply and demand: they have a limited number of seats and seatings, and lots of demand for reservations. There are a couple of strategies, though:

                        --Be online on OpenTable, signed in with everything you need to make the reservation at exactly midnight (PT, I think) when the reservations open for the day you want (two months to the calendar date -- see below). Occasionally the OpenTable reservations aren't snapped up right away, so it's always worth checking.
                        --Shoot for lunch -- reservations are (slightly) easier, it's the same food and the same menu, and I frankly think it's nicer to be able to enjoy the garden and also to walk off your food and wine before heading home.
                        --They take reservations two months from the calendar date, which means there are some days when they are taking reservations for more than one day (i.e. on 2/29 they'll be taking reservations for 4/29 and 4/30, on 6/30 they'll be taking reservations for 8/30 and 8/31), which increases your chances. Note that 8/30 and 8/31 are a Saturday and Sunday this year, which means if you call on 6/30 you have four times (lunch and dinner for two days) the chance of getting a reservation then you would have on following day. Hmmmm... maybe I shouldn't have posted that on the web!

                      2. re: JillPickle

                        I'm not a super-foodie willing to mortgage the house for dinner, but from what I've read and heard, you might want to try Cyrus in Healdsburg. Many consider it to be equal if not superior to FL.

                        1. re: OldTimer

                          I got a reservation for next week. It entailed dialing their number, getting a busy signal, then my cell phone automatically redialing for about three minutes, then getting through to an automated message that put me on hold for thirty minutes and then getting through to a real person.

                          I read the paper while I waited and talked to my boyfriend. Not that difficult. But I was flexible with the weird day and time that was available.

                  2. we got dinner reservations through opentable for fl & had NO problems at all. this was two years ago. i believe they've always had the two dinner seatings. we got the early one & enjoyed the best restaurant meal i've ever had. this is NOT to say that it was easy getting the reservations. be happy you scored & enjoy.