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Table Talk

Scoring the best seat in the house



©istockphoto.com

We all know when we’re being sent to Siberia by a restaurant hostess, seated at such an undesirable table—near a drafty window or a swinging door leading to the kitchen—that most of us promptly request to be reseated. Still, the notion of a good table is all relative.

At Gabriele’s, VIPs like Judge Judy are seated at the banquettes around the perimeter of the round dining room, giving them a comfortable position of prominence where they can be seen by other diners. At Greenwich Tavern, if you’re a large family party or a group of couples, the long rectangular table in the secondary dining room may be your best bet. At the Cos Cobber, the booths are king (the legendary Andy Rooney was spotted at the one in the far right corner just days before his passing). Some swear by round tables for the best flow of conversation within a group. On a date, of course, many couples prefer some quiet and privacy; romantic tables abound at Thomas Henkelmann and Valbella.

So how do you go about securing a great table even if you don’t have connections and you’re not Page-Six material? First, be clear on where you want to sit; then, greased palms aside, try these tips from top hostesses.

Announce Your Special Occasion

Call ahead and let them know that you’re celebrating a birthday, anniversary, sports victory or whatever the case may be. If you tell the hostess in advance that this is an important meal and you want a primo table to suit the moment, you’re much more likely to get a desirable spot.

Be Flexible with Timing

If you’re planning to eat at a popular restaurant, consider booking an earlier or later seating. You may have better luck demanding that corner table. 

Become a Regular

When you really love a restaurant, it pays to be a repeat customer. The more often you go and get to know the staff, the more likely your name and face will be recognized—and rewarded.

Dress for Success

Though restaurants shouldn’t discriminate based on looks, they do want those seated at prime tables to represent the customer well. Paying attention to your appearance will make a difference.

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