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On reserving multiple tables

It occurs to me that a problem that is particularly serious in Paris is that of diners' reserving a panoply of tables so that they can decide at the last moment which one strikes their fancy and mood. As a forum, where we counsel on methods of securing reservations, menu translations, even proper dress attire, we have been derelict in not warning visitors against this quite unacceptable practice.

When just one person double books, he is keeping another from securing a table. Worse, he is stealing from the restaurant by keeping them from selling a table until the last minute if at all. Of course, this assumes that he has the presence to call and cancel the reservation he does not keep.

Visitors need to do homework, like the scores who visit Chowhound every day, and decide their preferences before they book. Then, book the one table that sings to their hearts. Booking two tables will not increase one's odds of having a memorable meal. It only decreases other diners' chances of doing the same.

Come to Chowhound and pound us with questions. We are all here to answer questions in infinite detail. Just ask. Then choose your table and enjoy!

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  1. You're absolutely right, Mangeur. The issue has to be addressed. And too many Paris restaurateurs are complaining about last-minute cancellations resulting in empty tables.

    A few weeks ago, the head of State of some prestigious country (that will remain unnamed) did just that: reserve the entire dining-room of Sola, while booking an entire other restaurant, choosing to go to the other restaurant at the last minute, and not notifying Sola. Same problem, larger scale.

    1. It's not unique to Paris or France, of course. A few years ago on one of the regional US boards, a poster who was visiting that area reported that she was holding tables at 2 very popular ( and small) restaurants for the same slot and wanted advice which was the better. I replied that her doing so was inconsiderate -- may even have said "rude." My post got reported and deleted for being personal, attacking a fellow hound.

      1 Reply
      1. re: masha

        Indeed. I am attacking no one. In fact, I hope that this post might prevent a few well-intended visitors from unintentionally committing a faux pax, I think that the unintened consequences just don't occur to those who haven't taken time to choose rationally before they book.

      2. This uis a very important point and as Pti says it crushes some restaurants, especially smaller ones that count on every cover. It's arrogant, rude and has real economic consequences.

        1. l am naive enough to be amazed it is done with any regularity. l have never double booked and see no need.
          Perhaps this is why some restos in Manhattan and Los Angeles take credit cards with reservations and give you a limit on a time period when it can be cancelled with no charge.
          Or even do the David Chang, Sholo Olunloyo or others in paying when res is made and it is up to you to find someone to take your place if you cannot come.
          If patrons keep messing with the system, more and more restauranteurs will require a pre-pay system.

          1. I think this subject needs to be broached frequently. Someone posted one day ago that they had booked two places at the same time.

            Maybe some are just selfish, uncaring, rude, but I think many are just not thinking of how unfair this practice is to the restaurant.

            1. I agree... to a point. In summer with a heatwave on its way, I sometimes find myself with rezzies at a typically badly ventilated restaurant (all too common in Paris) which will turn into a sauna if the temps rise. So I frantically ring around to find another restaurant with air-conditioning or a terrace. Once a I find a more suitable heatwave resto, I immediately cancel the first one and explain that bad ventilation is the reason for my cancellation. Not quite the multiple booking complained about here but the effect is the same. But such selfishness is pretty rare because I don't usually make long-range plans and more typically book a table a day or two before or the day of. Yet, I wonder what tourists should do in a similar situation.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Parnassien

                I have a few restaurants in mind for hot days, for that reason. I am surprised you don't, Parn.

                1. re: Parigi

                  I have lots of heatwave-suitable restos percolating in my memory since sweat dripping off the waiter's or my nose into the tartare is not my idea of fun. But the weather can be very unpredictable and forecasts are not always reliable...sometimes when I'm caught off guard by a sudden heatwave I have to quickly change plans to avoid getting stuck in a resto-sauna.

                  1. re: Parnassien

                    Here we have posters saying: "I booked this one and that one, help me pick the one that I will like most", not "I booked this one, please tell me how to replace it if an unexpected heatwave / tornado / typhoon / Mireille Mathieu recital happens." We're addressing a different issue.

                    Without wishing to hurt you my dear Parnassien, your own plan Bs for weather reasons are irrelevant to the subject, just because they're understandable and motivated.

                    1. re: Parnassien

                      Was at L'Assiette on Sunday evening. The restaurant was deserted as it was the first day with good weather in some time. The patron told me many customers canceled as they wanted to eat 'al fresco' and his place did not have an outdoor area. A similar situation to Parnassien.

                2. While I totally agree that a customer should keep the restaurant appraised of one's intentions, I see absolutely nothing wrong with sending out multiple requests for the same time slot and choosing the best if the decision is made quickly and the decision is communicated quickly to the restaurant you are declining. I see the situation as being similar to applying to "safe schools" when you are hoping for your first choice, which might be a stretch. Once my first choice comes in or declines me, I confirm my decision and inform the rest. I think other commenters have the tri luxuries of speaking French, being in the same time zone and being known to the restaurants...'usins from Indiana need to send out multiple email requests.

                  39 Replies
                  1. re: hychka

                    You who believe in multiple reservations, did you not also complain about restaurants canceling you because they overbooked ? Why do you think restaurants overbook?

                    1. re: Parigi

                      FYI I keep every reservation I accept if humanly possible and always inform people ASAP if something unavoidable occurs.
                      I complained about ZKG voiding my reservations because I had confirmed our intentions to be there the very day prior to the seating. Nonetheless the little dickens (substitute vile word of your choice here) voided my reservations, embarrassing me in front of my architect and his wife, our house guests. We ate Chinese on one of four nights our friends had here. Yes, I am still peeved.
                      Read my post again...I do not have the luxuries you have of being able to call restaurants and expect complete communication because of the time zone, language and personal familiarities you all enjoy.

                      Also, I think we are talking over each other...you probably pick up the phone and either get your first choice or simply move on. I have to rely primarily on email which doesn't allow instant info one way or the other.

                    2. re: hychka

                      Agreed. I don't think people should maintain multiple reservations for the same night, but making them months/weeks in advance and then choosing and canceling in an appropriate timeframe (IMO that would be at least 2 weeks out) is really not the problem people seem to be making it out to be.

                      Since we're hoping people who are doing this will see this thread, my advice to posters hoping for input is not to mention the multiple reservations here. Just say you're considering the two restaurants and leave it at that.

                      1. re: Chris VR

                        Read my post again...I never suggested one MAINTAIN multiple reservations...I suggest one toss lots of bread on the water and snatch the best fish that happens along and leave the rest for others.

                        1. re: hychka

                          The other unforeseen consequence of the shotgun approach is that, say, you have just snagged a res at Septime. I call 5 minutes later and am told they are complet. So I scratch it off my list for that day. It causes me to either rearrange my schedule or repeatedly call back for a hoped for cancellation.

                          1. re: hychka

                            Which is why my post started with "agreed". I agree with you.

                          2. re: Chris VR

                            Great advice. That will make us instantly suspicious of anybody who asks us for help in choosing between two restaurants.

                            Come to think of it, I'll stop helping these ones, too.

                            This way, even people who genuinely desire help before reserving won't get any.

                            1. re: Chris VR

                              Chris - what benefit does this advice give anyone?

                              First, you spend time making lots of bookings and in Paris that could be by phone, which is complex for many. Second, you then to repeat the process to cancel - if it was tricky to make them what is the probability someone will make the effort to cancel?

                              And third, what new information do you have two weeks before you go that helps make a decision, I understand how the "mood of the night" may affect a decision on the day but two weeks out seems no better than 6 weeks out to me.

                              The problem with this strategy is that it is again selfish. Restaurants are falsely booked and appear full, so many may miss out when they ring and it's falsely full....chances are they won't ring back, and lots of restaurants in a Paris don't have wait lists.

                              1. re: PhilD

                                I'm not recommending people go out and make multiple reservations, but if they have, and plan to cancel in an appropriate time, why the need to treat them like they've committed some sort of major sin? Nannying people into your desired behavior pretty much never works. People are going to do what they're going to do. Even if they agree with you in theory, there's always some circumstance that makes their situation unique that will justify them doing it.

                                If posters only want to give recommendations to people they feel won't violate the no multiple reservations rule, that's their choice, but don't give the recommendation and move on to the next thread rather than making a big stink about how you think that person is ruining the Paris dining scene. How does that help anybody?

                                To go to the extent of not wanting to give recommendations if you think people will use the info to make multiple reservations seems extreme to me, but do what feels right to you. This is supposed to be fun and if it's important to you to be sure your tips won't be misused, then you should by all means refrain from sharing that information.

                                1. re: Chris VR

                                  Chris - still trying to understand the benefit of the strategy you outline?

                                  Agree, people will be people and look after #1 but should we condone it or try to educate. The multiple reservation issue is quite new and probably a sign of the "it's all about me" syndrome.

                                  Paris is a tight restaurant market with high demand for hot tables. Anecdotally it's the US visitors who are the worst for no-shows. So why not a little education......?

                                  1. re: PhilD

                                    Now it will be: "Please, I don't have double reservations. Where should I eat? I'm incapable of doing a search, and I promise... swear... I won't double book."

                                    Followed by: "Please report back!"

                                    Report back: "I quadruple booked all of these hot addresses, then cancelled at the last minute. So did my table of 40. Then, I tried to reserve the next day, and when I went, they were rude! I can't believe it! I only just walked in and demanded that they serve me an off the menu dish while screaming YOLO the entire time and sent back meat over and over until they'd finally charred it!"

                            2. re: hychka

                              "I think other commenters have the tri luxuries of speaking French, being in the same time zone and being known to the restaurants...'usins from Indiana need to send out multiple email requests."

                              Hychka, I know that you believe this to be true and that you are the exception: monolingual, thousands of miles away and an unknown quantity. But have comfort knowing that several of us, at least Jake and I, do not speak understandable French, live 9 hours from Paris and try to visit new restaurants each visit.

                              I have found that GoogleTranslate has greatly improved since its outrageously unintelligible beginnings. I simply write out my message, put it through the translator, THEN click on the little megaphone at the bottom of the translation to hear it spoken in French. And you can push the megaphone button as many times as you wish.

                              I plan out our meals, then call one restaurant at a time to reserve, check off that time slot and go on to the next. Easy, peasy. Well, almost. But all discriminating travel involves effort.

                              1. re: mangeur

                                You are probably correct. My experience with phone reservations has been 50/50 because of the time zones, erratic serving hours and days, poor web pages and my ability to get everything across correctly except for the day of the month. HA!
                                I'll try harder with a card in hand fully translated via google.

                                1. re: hychka

                                  Learning to speak understandable French only solves part of the problem. I have often carefully rehearsed my French only to get a response that I cannot understand at all. One time I called a restaurant and stated my desired time and the person at the other end said "nom", which I heard as "non". I tried to ask what time was available, and the person brusquely said "your name?" I felt like an idiot.
                                  I use email for reservations as much as possible (I can write French very well), or get a local friend to make the call for me.

                                  1. re: rrems

                                    Yes. I see that as a disadvantage to the google translation recording call...what if they ask me about allergies, or window seating, or smoking, or...,or....,or....I would have no idea what they wanted and wouldn't know what to say. I will try the robo call next reservation and I do hope it works, but am not confident as you all suggest suggest I be.

                                    1. re: hychka

                                      What I am hearing throughout many of our responses is "Yes, but..." which is always a barrier to finding a solution to a problem.

                                      Let's face it. Making a phone call in a foreign language is always a scary thing at first. In fact, being comfortable on the phone is one sign that you are gaining proficiency.

                                      One way that works for me is to start every phone call with "Bonjour (or bonsoir) Monsieur (or madame). Est-ce que vous comprenez anglais?" Then "Tres bien" and continuing in English ou "désolé" and fumbling on in French.

                                      At the end of the conversation, it's a good idea to ask them to repeat the reservation.

                                      Like many firsts in life, the first few calls are the most stressful. But as recommended throughout this thread, calling is still the single best way to secure a reservation.

                                    2. re: rrems

                                      You describe a classic malentendu that has probably blindsided every non-French speaker during his first telephone attempt.
                                      I remember responding, "Non? Non? Complet?" And, they then sighed and asked for my name. I felt like a fool. But I survived. Life is a learning curve.

                                      1. re: mangeur

                                        I recall getting hung-up on "prenom." I would have understood if I'd seen the written word but over the phone I was just baffled. I also think that we non-fluent French speakers imagine slights when the person on the other side is not being condescending; we just bring these preconceptions with us.

                                  2. re: mangeur

                                    "[S]everal of us, at least Jake and I, do not speak understandable French" -- hey, I resemble that remark. As I've often said, my goal is to speak bad French as well as I speak bad German, and I'm almost there. (When in France, I speak, and my more easily embarrassed wife comprehends -- and translates for me as necessary. As some French folks have mentioned to us at the end of a trying three-way conversation, we are an "équipe.") PS, more on topic: When calling to reserve, I often rehearse, and I used to have my mobile phone number spelled out in words and ready to report when they invariably ask for that. But I can now give that impromptu if I close my eyes -- what progress! -- Jake

                                    1. re: Jake Dear

                                      "understandable French"
                                      Watch while we all race to the bottom.

                                      1. re: Jake Dear

                                        LOL. Our hotel phone number is the only thing I can recite in French in my sleep. Just in case I land on my head in the gutter and need to notify someone. (Actually did that once.) When I rattle it off, people who have been listening to my pathetic garble look up in disbelief.

                                        1. re: Jake Dear

                                          <When calling to reserve, I often rehearse, and I used to have my mobile phone number spelled out in words and ready to report when they invariably ask for that.>

                                          I've been doing that for decades now. I find understanding the person on the other end of the phone much more difficult than when in person, so I take no chances and write out everything I'm going to say.

                                          1. re: Jake Dear

                                            My far-from-fluent French is good enough that I typically just rehearse mentally the key phrases that I will need before phoning to make a reservation, but I don't write out a script. Last year, while making a reservation from our hotel room for dinner in Lyon, when the asked for the phone number, I rattled it off in French --- except that, when I came to the numeral "4," I evidently said it in English, but with a French accent. I had no awareness that I had done so, but my husband overheard me. The restaurant employee on the other side did not say a thing.

                                          2. re: mangeur

                                            Completely agree with this. Even with some rudimentary french, Google translate was invaluable to me. The gap between lunch and dinner in Paris, lines up perfectly with morning in my time zone. So with a calendar, some notes, and google translate it was much easier than expected to call and make reservations. My mangled french was enough to start the conversation, get across the broad strokes of my requests, and usually got me what I wanted.

                                            I actually had more success this way than with places that used email or automated systems.

                                            1. re: VealParmGuy

                                              " My mangled french was enough to start the conversation and get across the broad strokes of my requests, and usually got me what I wanted. "


                                              1. re: mangeur

                                                "mangled french"
                                                The issue here is not how well or poorly one speaks a language but how hard one tries. I've gone through hours with workmen struggling to describe what I want only to be bid "goodbye" and then find out that said worker went to UC Santa Barbara for 2 years.

                                              2. re: VealParmGuy

                                                "I actually had more success this way than with places that used email or automated systems."

                                                So true - the phone works best. And to be honest if you try to get the greeting right, apologise for not speaking French then ask to speak English then 99% will speak English.

                                                1. re: PhilD

                                                  Exactly the advice my quad-lingual daughter gave me last night. Thanks, Phil1.

                                            2. re: hychka

                                              I like you are a long way away, speaking limited French and understanding less and unknown to restaurants. The solution is to ask your hotel to help - email a list of dates, times, restaurant names and contact numbers and they look after you.

                                              The problem with your multiple approach is the effort you need to make to cancel. If someone has the above barriers to make reservations then they have the same barriers to cancel them.

                                              1. re: PhilD

                                                I think that hychka stays in an apartment and does not have the luxury of a deskman to run interference for him. I would lean on my apartment host. But in the long run, being totally on your own is part of renting an apartment.

                                                1. re: mangeur

                                                  And, I wouldn't give up my kitchen, dining room, spare bedroom, laundry, balcony and real coffee/express maker for all the hotel made reservations in the world! And, Chez Suzette ( wife's cooking from gems gathered in the markets) is still my favorite place to eat in Paris.

                                                  1. re: hychka

                                                    But are you not in Paris for weeks rather than days? The OP is only in town for 4 days.

                                                    I am the cook in our house so I like to have a holiday from that sometimes.....and if I am in a city for only a few days I really want to see it in the evening.

                                                    1. re: PhilD

                                                      Indeed, it makes more sense to cook when you're in town for a suitable length of time.

                                                      As much of a passionate cook as I am, I wouldn't bother if I were anywhere for less than a week. Or even ten days. It takes a little thinking and planning to cook when you're in a foreign country. Better give in to the charm of eating out.

                                                      1. re: PhilD

                                                        Just stating my preference for fending for myself over giving up an apartment. And, yes! We stay in apartment for four day stays...sometimes three day stays. More room for less money plus we can eat in most every breakfast, share a bottle before pushing off for dinner, enjoy excellent coffee, our wine list is infinite, and get to enjoy the great local supplies. Sure beats room service!
                                                        Here's Coq au vin from two nights ago.

                                                        1. re: hychka

                                                          Unlike the single vs multiple reservation question, the hotel vs apartment debate is truly an individual issue. If I had someone to shop and cook for me while traveling, I might enjoy an apartment more. But having to make all of the decisions and cook and clean up is what I do 24/7 at home. It is hardly a vacation.

                                                          I also have the advantage of living in NoCal where I can source exceptional fermier products. France's markets are extraordinary, but they are no longer an epiphany for us. Of course there are things I can't source here, but that is also why I dine out France, as much to learn as to enjoy.

                                                          As I tried to suggest earlier, I admire and respect those who choose an apartment because they are sampling real life without the interface of a front desk to go running to when one hits the cultural wall.

                                                          1. re: mangeur

                                                            My sympathies. We're semi-retired and have nothing better to do. OTOH my daughter is visiting us and her home office in the 8th this week and is in and out to London and Issoire. If you are working like that, there is no time for shopping, cooking and dishes. Making the reservations is work enough.

                                                            1. re: hychka

                                                              "Making the reservations is work enough."
                                                              Plus all the canceling, mon dieu !

                                                    2. re: mangeur

                                                      And, I wouldn't give up my kitchen, dining room, spare bedroom, laundry, balcony and real coffee/express maker for all the hotel mad reservations in the world! And, Chez Suzette ( wife's cooking from gems gathered in the markets) is still my favorite place to eat in Paris.

                                                2. I wish this original post by mangeur could be pinned to the top of this board. And I hope that other advice, amounting to "just do it but don't admit it," will not be followed. PS, I understand from another forum that some folks do the same thing with hotels, which is an analogously suspect practice. -- Jake

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: Jake Dear

                                                    That was me and it is only for this night until my husband gets in from out of town and helps me decide, then we will cancel It's 5 weeks from now and they have other vacant rooms, so I think I am not depriving anyone from a room I hope I will be forgiven for 1 night!

                                                    1. re: topeater

                                                      Hi top -- I should have been more clear -- I was referring to a couple experienced posters on the TripAdvisor France forum who actually recommend double booking for Paris hotels that allow cancellation on the day of arrival -- so as to guard against the chance that when you show up at your hotel of first choice, they might have "lost" your reservation. (PS, Indeed, this has happened to us, twice, in the rare circumstances when we've booked only one night -- think you are more likely to bumped from small hotels if you book only 1 night -- but both times the hotel has, on our arrival, sent us to another nearby hotel in an upgraded room. And to tie this diversion back into food in France, I'll also say that in the most recent episode, the hotel provided free breakfasts as well.) -- Jake

                                                      1. re: Jake Dear

                                                        Jake, this is a very good point. I almost insist on giving a host a deposit. When they don't require one, I make sure that I have in writing that we have a firm reservation, no deposit required. Then I reconfirm closer to arrival, and when I am feeling particularly paranoid, telling them how overjoyed we are to be staying with them "tomorrow night".

                                                  2. I think a solution to the problem of multiple bookings is to require a credit card to secure the reservation and an agreement that the CC will be charged if there is a no show or no advance notice of a no show. I have been happy to do this in other cities.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: hychka

                                                      Does this mean that you would entrust a credit card number to an e-mail?

                                                      1. re: bcc

                                                        No. I expect that a restaurant demanding a CC to secure reservations would have a decent web page with reservations by internet and secure methods of using CCs.

                                                    2. So I've held off on this vignette but here goes:
                                                      One of the world's 10 richest men in the days I was still downhill skiing, at Aspen, would have his minions reserve tables for his party of family and ski instructors at all the top tables on the mountains, then not show at those he was not near at mealtime.
                                                      The only redeeming parts of this were
                                                      1 that when he did show up he tipped royally and
                                                      2 everyone knew the scam so they over-booked (see above).
                                                      What's the saying "It takes a scammer to know a scammer?"

                                                      5 Replies
                                                      1. re: John Talbott

                                                        And from this we draw what conclusion?

                                                        eta that the fact that a few, probably high end places have learned to overbook in proportion to their historic no-show experience in no way excuses anyone to double book. The little soulful places that we frequent have a simple seating chart with the name of every reservation written on a table. No blank spaces, and no list of unseated diners. And prices that don't allow them to "eat" unfilled tables.

                                                        1. re: mangeur

                                                          1. That men, always men, in power, don't play by the rules even when it comes to restaurants,
                                                          2. That smarter restaurateurs, even earning 1/millionth what the CEO does, can spot a repeat offender, and
                                                          3. That in the end, crime doesn't pay (stating the exceptions will get the thread disappeared, but I'll send you an email naming them).

                                                          1. re: John Talbott

                                                            What you describe has little to do with the intent and content of this thread or with the conscientious people who come to Chowhound for help.

                                                            The purpose of Chowhound is to help diners have the best possible dining experience. Part of that experience has to do with securing reservations. If we can help more people find reservations by teaching everyone the proper way to do it, everyone benefits, diners and restaurateurs.

                                                            1. re: John Talbott

                                                              "2. That smarter restaurateurs, even earning 1/millionth what the CEO does, can spot a repeat offender, and"

                                                              In what way does that apply to Paris restaurants and bistros, pray, John? Once they get a call for a reservation, they write it down. When they find themselves with empty tables on their hands, they're the ones who deal with it. End of story.

                                                              3. That in the end, crime doesn't pay (stating the exceptions will get the thread disappeared, but I'll send you an email naming them).

                                                              In what way does "crime doesn't pay" does apply to empty tables cancelled at the last minute, or to customers not being able to book a restaurant in normal conditions?

                                                          2. re: John Talbott

                                                            JT, that may have been "back in the day", buts that's not how things happen here (Aspen & Vail) anymore. The folks making the resv get grilled when they call, the place get a card number and a no-show gets charged whatever the restaurant decides to bill.

                                                            Plus, a person may be a "heavy hitter", but no local cares. If you lose, one another is waiting right behind them.

                                                            What is more likely is for the hitter to have a place they can walk into and get "their" table. That happens because the Big H was a large benefactor of the restaurant, which is very likely here in the High Rockies.

                                                          3. Here is a different abomination. someone on the Manhattan board has three reservations at the SAME RESTAURANT, said restaurant might be the toughest ticket in NY, and is determining the best time to go. the res are in June. Wow, the price of poker just went up.

                                                            14 Replies
                                                              1. re: Parigi

                                                                Well, he's from the race of the heroes. Why wouldn't they.

                                                                There will come a time when restaurateurs won't accept customers anymore. They'll cook dinner for themselves and their staff only.

                                                                1. re: Ptipois

                                                                  Ha! Lot of economic sense in that!!

                                                                  1. re: Ptipois

                                                                    I'm sure many already wish they could do that... And I don't blame them.

                                                                    1. re: Rio Yeti

                                                                      Add the diner at Ze who tells the waiter she does not want "Asian" tastes, and you start to suspect that chefs kill themselves not because they are afraid of losing a Michelin star, but because these pathetic diners make them lose their marbles.

                                                                      1. re: Parigi

                                                                        Sort of like Bertolt Brecht's dictum that the government should dissolve the people and get another people?

                                                                        1. re: bcc

                                                                          I know several Chinese restaurateurs who keep an underground mini-menu that they would disclose only to trusted regulars…

                                                                          1. re: bcc

                                                                            I had that very dictum in mind when I wrote my comment.

                                                                          2. re: Parigi

                                                                            I'd love to open a traditional French place of some sort in the US, but I'd freakin' lose it with requests to overcook expensive proteins, periodic unpasturized milk client flip-outs, and other variants of kill-joy behavior. I guess if I call the place "Tripes de Caen" I'd self-select somewhat.

                                                                            There's plenty of people who like decent French cooking in the U.S., but then again there's plenty who....

                                                                            1. re: Busk

                                                                              And they'd hit you over the head with: Joel Robuchon in Vegas lets me tweak this and switch that and substitute that other with the tasting menu. Why can't you, jerk ?

                                                                            2. re: Parigi

                                                                              We live in a society of "special' people. As dear husband says when someone is particularly exasperating, 'Her Daddy told her she was cute" (Mommies do it to sons, also.)

                                                                              1. re: mangeur

                                                                                I personally hold Marlo Thomas and all her cohorts from the FREE TO BE YOU AND ME PROJECT responsible for starting the self entitlement trend.

                                                                                1. re: Indy 67

                                                                                  Whoever they are, I wish on them forever off-nights in all the restaurants where they go.

                                                                      2. While far from foolproof in the US the online reservation system Open Table blocks out duplicate reservations. The reservation don't even have to be at the same time. As long as there is a reasonable overlap the system won't accept. Phoning to make a reservation won't work either since the restaurant's reservation computer will block a double reservation. Now this is far from 100%. Someone can book at a place that participates in Open Table and at a place that handles all its own bookings. Or another member of the family with a completely different IP address could book a competing reservation. But at least Open Table blocks out the casual double bookers.

                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Indy 67

                                                                          Open Table also kicks out no show people, demands an explanation and bars them from further use. And, users in good standing get discounts. My guess is that many CH France favorites are too small for these services or sophisticated web pages. Anyway, sounds like a business opportunity for someone with computer skills and a love of Paris restaurants!...maybe a "Paris By Mouth" for fee service.

                                                                          1. re: hychka

                                                                            I always think Open Table is a complex solution to a simple problem. Most restaurants in France are quite small and the telephone and book work well - this old fashioned solution is also a one that suits a polite society which values personal interaction and good manners.

                                                                            True internet bookings work for the popular, the big and the busy. But are not the restaurant dynamics in France different. And isn't La Fouchette the French equivalent.

                                                                            One thing about Open Table is it's a pain to use in the US if you are not from the US as it won't accept non-US phone numbers. So you make up a number with the risk of the restaurant recon firming to the wrong phone number...! At least it takes non-US credit card numbers ( I think) which lots of US sites reject.

                                                                            1. re: PhilD

                                                                              Opentable is used by thousands of restaurants in the US. I've used it to reserve in the UK, too, and I don't recall if I was able to put in my US phone, but if I couldn't I would put a note with the real phone # in the special request section, or ask that they confirm by email.

                                                                              It is not just for big and busy places, many tiny ones use it too. It is a wonderful convenience for me, as I can look up all the available times and choose the date and time that works best for me, or check availabilities to figure out how far in advance I will need to book.