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How can I score a Fat Duck reservation?

Going to be in London (from the US) in late September and we really want to get a reservation at The Fat Duck. I know they open their books 60 days prior so I already know the day I need to call and their website says the phone lines open at 10AM (which will be 5AM for the US East Coast). But does anyone know if they "really" open the phone at 9:55 or 10:05, you know what I mean, if I call at 10:00 will I be too late or knocked out because I'm calling too early? If anyone knows any tricks to get I'd really appreciate it.

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    They don't answer before 10. Ring. It'll be engaged. Ring again. It'll still be engaged. Repeat process until it rings. They will then answer - but it''ll take ages for them to do so and you'll start to think you are being ignored. Once you are speaking to a real person, they will be as helpful as possible but the odds are that they will then already be fully booked.

    I can only suggest that them having said they are booked for the day you want, you ask if they have a slot the following day. This may work better if the 2 calendar months hence happened to fall on a day when they were closed. Worked for us - it would have been nice to have been there actually on my 60th birthday but we'll be there 3 days after, which is close enough.

    It actually took us 2 days to get through. On Day 1, it had been constantly engaged for about 2 hours and we had to give up as we had other things to do. Day 2 took about another 45 minutes before they answered.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Harters

      Thank you so much for the info. I fear we won't be able to get a reservation because 45-60 minutes on hold for an international call would be a bit restrictive.

      1. re: Spiritchaser

        I had a slightly different experience, two of us calling independently, we actually ended up with two tables, I had to call back (constantly engaged) to cancel one! Just keep trying!

        Have you not got a uk friend who can sit on the phone for you?

        1. re: stanleyk

          The people I know are via work and they would be at work at that time. We are still going to try because like they say, "nothing ventured..."

        2. re: Spiritchaser

          Bear in mind that lunch will be easier than dinner and, according to the website, you can reserve online for lunch (although only from a week after phone bookings open).

          I'm looking forward to our trip - although glad this a birthday present rather than me paying. I doubt whether I could really justify the drive there and back, the overnight hotel and the £150 a head.

          Good luck with your phoning.

          1. re: Harters

            My plan is to first try for a dinner rez on the day we want, if that doesn't work we will try for dinner 2 days later when books open for a Saturday night (yeah, good luck with that), and if neither of those pan out we try for a Sunday lunch. I'll report back in a couple weeks reagrdless of how it turns out. Thaks for the input everyone.

            1. re: Harters

              Where will you be staying overnight? That area was my stomping ground when I was darn sarf.

              1. re: mr_gimlet

                Maidenhead. Not sure of the name of the hotel - somewhere fairly decent that Mrs H found on TripAdvisor.

            2. re: Spiritchaser

              Harters is right, you need to ring at exactly 10:00 and keep re-dialling until they answer. We had a number of phones on speed dial going simultaneously - it worked, one got through. You are not "on hold" the phone is simply engaged i.e. you can't get through. I thought if it was engaged you don't get charged?

              John - best wishes for the 60th b.day, I am certain you will like the FD after all you enjoyed Fraiche.

              1. re: PhilD

                I'm sure I will, Phil. When I was muttering about the cost, Mrs H said something along the lines of "Call ourselves foodies. Where else we going to go". Of course, she was blunter than that - but she's from Salford.

            3. re: Harters

              do they not have "ring back" oop north? if i dial a number and its busy, kindly bt offers to call me back when the line is free.

            4. Just a quick update for anyone that cares to know. I managed a reservation! So freakin' excited about this.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Spiritchaser

                Congrats!

                We'll be there Thursday. Can't recall when I was last so excited about the prospect of dinner.

              2. Its a really poor and unfair system im afraid but unfortunately there seems to be only one way to get in.I tried to book 3 days too early and was told to phone back at 10 am on the monday , exactly 2 calender months before i wanted to eat.
                I tried at 9.50 .....answer machine
                i tried at 9.55......answer machine
                i tried at 10.00....all lines engaged , so i hung up and went on continuous redial for 45 minutes before i got an answer , my fingers were sore by then.
                15 minutes on hold listening to Alice in wonderland and only then i got through to a real person..........AND GOT THE LAST TABLE FOR 2.
                Good luck.

                14 Replies
                1. re: sped98

                  It's your basic supply & demand, Alan.

                  Priced at £150 a throw (which has gotta be more like £200 after drinks & tip), punters like you, me and Spritchaser are still prepared to cough up. Fair or unfair system, if I was Mr B, I wouldnt be giving a shit, either :-O

                  1. re: Harters

                    good luck with your trip - don't eat in Maidenhead (I say this having lived there, there is nothing, nada, natch) and if you need food go to the Royal Oak in Paley Street (5 mins drive)

                    1. re: mr_gimlet

                      No plans to, Mr G.

                      Motorway butty on the way down. Decent lunch on the way back - I travel the M40 a couple of times a year and have a list of pubs just off the junctions, particularly in Warwickshire.

                      Had been toying with the Hand & Flowers @ Marlow, for a bit of Michelin pubbery, but am leaving that for another time.

                      1. re: Harters

                        It has good and bad days. And inflated prices just because of location.

                  2. re: sped98

                    Think that is tricky - try booking "the" table for six.

                    1. re: PhilD

                      I know of a couple who recently walked into the FD at 1pm on a Saturday, on the off chance of a reservation. Someone had just cancelled, and they got seated immediately. Ditto another friend at Royal Hospital Road for a Friday night dinner. They both said that by then it was too late to call standbys, so there were free tables. If you are travelling for a special occasion, then obviously this isn't possible, but in a throw-caution-to-the-wind moment, quite fun (and decadent).

                    2. re: sped98

                      How is that unfair? Everyone has exactly the same situation to deal with which makes it completely fair, in my view. I'm not sure what they could do differently really. It's certainly a lot more transparent than the El Bulli system for instance.

                      1. re: timmy_s

                        a lot more transparent than the El Bulli system

                        What is the El Bulli system??? outta interest!

                        1. re: thefatpostman

                          It is on the Spanish board, and El Bulli is already fully booked for '011 which is the last year it will be open, I am afraid you missed the boat.

                            1. re: zuriga1

                              Better still there is the new "Dinner by Heston Blumenthal" at the Mandarin Oriental. It is open and has been running a soft opening for a few weeks now (surprised there are no reports on the board yet).

                              Looks like he is doing some of the dishes from his Feasts TV program rather than it being FD2. Reservations here: http://www.dinnerbyheston.com/

                              1. re: PhilD

                                Phil, I'm not sure why, but I just can't get excited about the type of food that Blumenthal cooks... at Fat Duck or on his TV programmes. Maybe I am not adventurous enough or not that much of a foodie. However, I do appreciate his inventiveness. Maybe it's my age and all the years I had of eating wonderful food here or there... I just can't justify those prices at FD for what is 'food.'

                                His attempt to update and improve the Little Chef chain seemed to fall flat, and that was a shame. I wish him well with the new venture and am anxious to hear what people think.

                                -----
                                Fat Duck
                                High St, Bray, Windsor and Maidenhead SL6 2, GB

                                1. re: zuriga1

                                  Well maybe Dinner will be more to your taste. The food appears much more traditional albeit with some twists. Have you read the menu or seen any of he reviews and photo's on blogs. Looks really good.

                                  1. re: PhilD

                                    I did read the Guardian review by Matthew Fort. He seemed very pleased with the food. The meat fruit did look fantastic! I'll do more reading.