Queuing up to get a table at the chicest places in the city has become an unfortunate way of life for Melbournians.
It is not unusual for diners to stand outside in a line for the better part of their evening, only to be told by a snooty maître de that they will take their number and call them when the next available table becomes available.
The rising popularity of restaurants like Chin Chin, Meatball and Wine Bar, Mamasita and Kong have cemented the idea that it is only the unpopular or the old school that allow bookings. The longer you are in line for, the better the food must be.
The food at Chin Chin and Kong, both brainchildren of The Lucas Group is unquestionably fantastic and unique. The flavours are huge and the menu is full of traditional Asian dishes, without being off-putting to western diners.
Dishes like the beef rendang curry at Chin Chin or the ssam roti-rolls at Kong are so tasty that it isn’t surprising that people are waiting for upwards of an hour to get a bite.
Price is also a factor. Many of these trendy restaurants are quite reasonably priced, unlike fancier, traditional restaurants like Flower Drum or The Press Club. So if having a classy dinner out for less means waiting around for awhile, perhaps people are willing to do so?
Trading Plates took to the streets to see what the diners of Melbourne think about the idea of waiting for a table vs. booking. And here is what they said.
“I don’t mind it, I think it becomes a question of the restaurants’ reputation in terms of waiting time, I personally would rather get there earlier (6ish) than wait. Having said that it always a pain when you have a bigger group and you go there for an experience or a night out.”
Bilal, 24, Patterson Lakes.
“I will not line up no matter how good it is supposed to be. If I am hungry I won’t wait but will just go somewhere else. I want to know I have a booking.”
Donna, 48, Mt Eliza.
“Doesn’t phase me either way. In a city like Melbourne if you can’t be bothered waiting there is always a quality backup plan around the corner.”
Jarryd, 23, Berwick.
“Fine on a night out when the restaurant has an adjoining bar or plenty nearby, but if you are just wanting to dine there then ‘no bookings’ makes it difficult. I think it’s just the ‘trendy’ thing to do now following the success of Chin Chin, Kong etc, but having a booking makes it easier and just as exclusive.”
John, 24, Melbourne.
“I prefer booking because you may really love the food there and don’t want to turn up and miss out. So having a booking just ensures ultimate happiness with the experience! Plus then you know the place isn’t going to be ridiculously busy where the service may suffer due to that. At least if you can book, the restaurant ensures they have the right staff etc to accommodate the customers.”
Rachel, 22, Langwarrin.
“As long as they have a bar to wait in… I’m good!”
Bridie, 34, Frankston.
“I waited two hours for a table at a restaurant the other week because they wouldn’t let us book and they just stuffed around the entire time- they were busy but service was terrible. I would prefer if it’s a busy joint to maybe do two sittings in a night rather than have people spilling out the door.”
Sophie, 21, Mornington.
It seems as though many people are not into the idea of waiting around for a table for hours on end, which makes sense given how many wonderful choices are out there… but sometimes the allure of trying out the hottest new place will draw people in. And as someone that has been to both Chin Chin and Kong… I can safely say the food would pull me back into line every time!
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