Question: Which is the ONLY Restaurant in the whole world that serves “Every-Quarter-Hour-Dinner-Specials”?
Answer: Obviously the Ocean Club's TAPAS BAR at PdL, the ONLY restaurant where so many ONLY things do happen.
On the "Tapas reservation sheets" there’s one thing that stands right out as surplus data: the precision with which the time the guests wished to have their meals is registered.
On the other hand, these documents lack of a piece of information that is usually required for reservations, and that is a contact number.
About the latter, we can be tolerant to its nonexistence, as we’re talking about foreigners in a foreign land, and there are roaming costs associated with the use of cell phones there.
But this is being really tolerant, because, business wise it makes absolute sense that a restaurant demands some way of contacting whoever that reserves in case they don’t show up.
This contact is usually made under the circumstance of having waiting clients and all other tables are occupied. If you have tables, and a guest doesn't show up, you just have to accept that fact.
Calling him will probably only annoy him, and the chances are that client, already lost for that evening, would be lost for forever. But although the probability of use is almost nil, it's the norm to ask as is any other safeguard of expected minimal use.
And if you do take the McCanns as an example, it seems that with the exception of the evening and late night of May 3rd, they had absolutely no restrictions in using their mobiles in PdL, BEFORE and after Maddie died, so shouldn't have any qualms in leaving their contacts. Not because of money, at least.
You can say that leaving the room number is sufficient, as the OC Reception would then contact the guest at fault.
Is that really practical? Call the reception to pull up the cell phone of the client, have the reception call the client and then call the restaurant to say what the client said... Certainly not as much as asking the person directly for the number. Quick, painless and, most of all, practical.
All in all, it’s just not understandable why on the "Tapas reservation sheets" that we’ve been shown there are no contact numbers. But we’ll pretend it is and move on.
Today, what is important is the precision of time in which the guests made their reservations with.
What's the difference, for any restaurant, to know that a certain person wishes to dine at 20:00, or that she wishes to do so at 20:15 or 20:30? ABSOLUTELY NONE.
Is the table only set 30 seconds before arrival? No, it’s set at the start of the evening.
Does the cook start five minutes before? No. First the guests arrive, and only then do things start at the kitchen. After all, a guest may not arrive at all.
And unless in the reservation is written down which dish chosen, nobody but the guest (each one of them) knows what is desired to eat that particular evening. We haven't seen any such choice in any of these sheets...
That’s why there are appetizers. You arrive, you sit and you chose. And have appetizers (or Tapas) while you wait for the main dish to arrive. If you don't order Tapas, then you just wait.
Is it because the ice could melt? It could be. I’ve heard so many lame excuses for so many things that I imagine that that could be it. The guests had to give the exact time they wanted to eat to avoid needless ice melting.
If not for that, then FOR WHAT are the reservation times specified?
Restaurants usually have two servings per meal. You either are able to book for the first serving, or if you’re only able to get a table on the second serving, the person responsible will give you warning such as “we’re only able to accommodate you after 21:00, if that’s alright with you”. It’s implicit that you’ll get a table as soon one other vacates that evening, and you either accept that or you don’t.
The finest restaurants usually have only one serving, as they can’t pressure their clients to leave, they will not risk not being able to sit clients that had reserved. They do charge enough to cover their losses.
Could it be an "obsession" with this precision due to customer demand? A meal just had to be served at EXACTLY the desired time?
We do have an indication, from Tapas bar itself, that the exact arrival time was indeed a completely irrelevant detail, as, at least on May 3rd, the T9 practically only were ready to eat after 21:00, although they booked for 20:30. .
Nobody complains about this, because there's nothing to complain about.
Nobody notices it, as there's nothing to notice.
Much like there’s no reason to book a meal at an exact time in an evening.
Yet it's something that is demanded, even if not enforced. Customer are fitted into PRECISE "quarter-hour" slots, at least according with the first 3 "Tapas reservation sheets". And who on earth knows at 11:00 if they're having dinner at 19:15, and not at 19:30?
Not even at home.
Whenever Fred asks if dinner will take too long, I politely tell him that it will take only 5 more minutes than it will take him to make it if he started there and then. Maybe that's why he never asks, poor, but dear soul.
Me, when we go out for dinner I just care where we're eating. Somewhere posh always gets my preference. If the person there that's noting the reservations asks "For what time?" my natural reaction is to ask "What's the limitation?".
One reserves for dinner, and that's that. But that's me, and I'm weird as everyone knows.
Dinner out is leisure time, and when I'm in leisure time, I like it to be me who manages my own time, and am not pleased if I'm to be pressured to meet a certain schedule for food.
No way would I ever allow that to happen on holiday.
A restaurant is NOT a boarding school.
We’ve seen before that it may have been possible for the FICTIONAL character, Arsene Lupin, to have dined Tapas, so, could it be possible also that yet another FICTIONAL character dined there too? I’m talking about Phileas Fogg, of course.
We all know how pressed for time Mr Fogg is known to be.
Looking at the "Tapas reservation sheets", we see that there’s no FOGG mentioned, nor a PASSPARTOUT , so it can only mean that back in October 1872, this gentleman, and his valet, on his way through to the Suez, demanded to have dinner on the quarter of the hour, not a minute after, and with this started a trend in PdL that has upheld to this day, that of specifying the exact minute in which the client wishes to dine.
Unfortunately, for the defenders such theory, according to the charting of Fogg’s trip, he didn’t come anywhere near Portugal:
Jules Verne was French, because if he was a Brit, then a string could be pulled and “someone” could be arranged to “talk” to this author convincing him into changing his novel just to "fit" the events at PdL…
The fact that he’s dead since 1905 would certainly be a minor detail that could be easily overcome. If only he wasn’t French…
So we have yet another curiosity that happens ONLY in PdL, which is the time specification, to the quarter of an hour, of restaurant bookings.
And they say that, in Portugal, Entroncamento is where all strange phenomena happen. But that was before Spring 2007.
Did I say "quarter of an hour"?
We do have, at least, one exception and that’s our friend Arsene Lupin/Thomas Cook.
He asked for his meal (never, ever to be billed) 20 minutes after the hour. Not on the hour, not a quarter past or to, not half past, but 20 minutes past.
Devious, devious character isn’t he?
There’s absolutely no reason for these times to appear. For a restaurant it’s completely indifferent if you eat at 20:00 or 21:00 if there are tables available and they can fit you within the same serving. You arrive, you sit, you eat, you pay and you leave, and the time boundaries to do all that are generic as they always should be.
Do you want to know why these times were used?
Well, who hasn’t seen a crime movie/TV episode where the murderer turns to a bystander and asks “I’m sorry but my watch has just stopped and I have these pills to take, do you happen to know what time it is right now? ”
This will obviously enable the bad guy/gal, the criminal, to have a witness which will later confirm the fake alibi created but that the good guy/gal, the brilliant detective with the title-role, unravels all before the credits start to roll.
In FICTION, that phrase is used, but in REAL LIFE it seems preferable to make up absolutely irrelevant times on absolutely fake reservation sheets.
Next Post: YOU be a Reservation Manager.