Cultural critic Jonathan Meades explains that, no matter how many Michelin stars it has, no restaurant is worth waiting for
“The whole queuing process is biased towards the restaurateur. I can’t imagine it’s going to last. Restaurateurs will always lie about how long you’ve got to wait. I think it’s taking the piss out of clients.
“Restaurants do suffer from a slightly dishonest public. We book several restaurants, go to one of them and not let the other ones know. It’s bad manners. But I think there has been an overreaction to it. It’s got an awful lot worse. Queuing has become an imposition that the public is subjected to by restaurateurs who don’t want to lose no-shows.
“I don’t think that it started in a big way in London; I think it was a New York thing. The first restaurant that I actually ever queued for was, oddly, in France: Le Comptoir. Getting Parisians to queue is quite the trick. However, I can’t think of anywhere where I’d queue for more than 20 minutes.
“I genuinely think queuing is going to rebound on many restaurants; they’re fomenting ill will by this practice of making people hang around. You can’t arrange an evening; you can’t arrange to meet people; it makes it far, far too casual. All the weight is on the client.
“If you were made to pay for a reservation, like putting down a deposit of £10, that would be a better idea. It’s not complicated – it’s what hotels do. They take your card in case you go and get into what a friend of mine calls ‘mini-bar abuse’.
“I don’t want to see restaurants losing money because people are so fucking discourteous they can’t be bothered to phone up and say, ‘No, I’m afraid we’re not coming.’ But they could have thought it through in a saner way. I think people will get really pissed off with it.”
The Plagiarist In The Kitchen is out now (Unbound)