Late v.s. Early seating in restaurants
Here's a question. Do you notice if there's a relation between the time of reservation and the quality of the cooking in a restaurant? For example running out of ingredients, or sloppy work due to a crunch of orders, or not warmed up/tiring out. I'm often able to make 9pm reservations but sometimes I wonder if that may not always be the optimal time to experience a restaurant, from this perspective.
Interesting observations. For sure, you are less likely to get a "special" later as they are often limited in number and are, well, special. I think everything is at its best when the cooks/front of the house are busy but not totally slammed. They seem to be in a better groove and things flow better IMO. There's also "later" in a restaurant and then there's 15 minutes until closing late where they've started cleaning in the kitchen and no one is happy that you just ordered your first of four courses. To be sure, at 9 PM on a Saturday in a restaurant that is closed on Sunday and Monday, I'd be surprised if they weren't running out of food especially items that won't keep for days like fish. No restaurant wants to be throwing food away. Very bad for business.
IMO it's a mixed bag. Yep, a particularly scrumptious sounding special or that hard-to-find wild-caught fish may have vanished. But soups and stews might be even better after a few extra hours, and sometimes I even find portions can be larger when closing time is right around the corner.
Last week at a favorite place we were among the last diners seated and the delectable mushroom risotto arrived in a truly mountainous serving. On the other hand, I often book very early seating times because it's quieter in the dining room, and the kitchen tends to be quicker and perhaps a bit more attentive when there are only a few tables occupied. Same goes for the servers, of course.