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Nov 15, 2010 03:35 AM

London Has Changed

It has been quite a few years since I have been to London and taken advantage of the restaurant scene. Needless to say, it has changed for the better and I am quite excited to dine at several of the recommendations made here on Chowhound, e.g., Langham for afternoon tea, Bombay Brasserie, Moro, etc..

I am, however, disappointed in one aspect of London dining; that is the practice of many restaurants reserving a table for only a certain period of time. I could, for example, book a table for 1930 but we would have to vacate by 2100. On a Saturday night, I prefer to go out for dinner and enjoy the eveing at the restaurant as you do on the Continent. This time-limit table policy reminds me of the turning tables practice of the States.

As a result, there was at least two restaurants we will not enjoy on our trip. That being said, London looks like a great place for a meal.

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  1. I'm surprised that places were saying you could only have 1.5 hours at your table. I don't like the practice, but if they allow you two hours or more it isn't too bad if they have a bar area, as you will normally have finished eating by then (unless it is a long tasting menu or something), and you can have coffee/another drink there.

    1. Weird post!

      Most places don't really uphold the limit if you're spending money, drinking wine, etc. I eat out a fair bit and have never once overstayed my welcome (aside from maybe at a Cocoon/Hakkasan type eatery but who wants to spend more than the allotted time at a place like that?) Also, I've never been offered a table for less than 2 hours unless I've booked same day or arrived w/o reservations.

      Finally -- I don't know where you've read such great things about Bombay Brasserie, but there are definitely better Indian places to check out if you're gonna spend £££. I would suggest Amaya, Benares, Cinnamon Club/Kitchen, or Quillon before BB -- its basically a major rip-off with very standard Indian food (albeit done to a good standard but the aforementioned are far more sophisticated).

      2 Replies
      1. re: brokentelephone

        The Bombay Brasserie is actually very good for their weekend lunchtime buffet. It is refined Indian food and the buffet delivers at a very reasonable price point and I would say this is actually one of the better London curry experiences i.e. I like the food far better than Cinnamon Club.

        1. re: PhilD

          I've only ever been to an a la carte dinner there, and found it ridiculously expensive-- somehow it was quite pretentious as well (the waiter kept going on about the celebs that eat there and frankly i didn't give a shizzam)

      2. I don't think I'd let that time limit for a table influence your choice of where to enjoy good food. If the service is decent, a dinner rarely takes more than 2 or 3 hours to get through two or three courses. Maybe it's just me, but that's enough sitting for a meal unless it's a party or wedding!

        1 Reply
        1. re: zuriga1

          To be honest, we usually spend three hours at a good restaurant on a Saturday night. We are going to London twice before Christmas so I will try again next month. Thanks for the encouragement.

        2. Perhaps, I did not understand the reservation system but when I tried to make a reservation on line and clicked on a time, I often got a message that said the table was needed back at a certain time and it was usually less than two hours. This happend at Scott's and The Wolseley. I am certainly open to more suggestions than the Bombay Brasserie, thanks.

          4 Replies
            1. re: brokentelephone

              And, I have checked each one. I think we will try the Amaya as it is close to our hotel.

              1. re: POY

                Amaya is great. I would avoid their curries and get the other dishes. They have a superlative grilled eggplant, excellent monkfish, and a lamb shank that is mind blowing, They have grilled, tandoori and fried dishes as specialties -- we noirmally get rice, yellow dahl, and a selection of smaller dishes.

            2. re: POY

              I've honestly never been given a time when a restaurant needs a table back when reserving by phone but it does seem to happen when doing so online.
              I've no idea whether there is any connection.

            3. The only instance I have come across the practice is with Yauatcha. But it's never been a problem in the many times I have dined there - the time allocated seems fine and I have never felt rushed.

              1 Reply
              1. re: pj26

                I think the practice of having more than one cover each meal-time will become more & more widespread in London in time - I experienced this at Bibendum, J Sheekey and the Wolseley this time.
                Also, 12.5% service is now added to the bill at most places - another relatively "new" practice.