Unless you're Michael Winner, or particularly au fait with each and every half-decent restaurant and possessed of an admirable persistence, it's very hard to ensure you are given a really good table, or at least one halfway satisfactory when you eat out. You might think it not a matter of great importance; the service, the food, the wine are all much more significant factors to many of us but a poor table can ruin a potentially great night out. Obviously some quite like the busy thoroughfare quality of the toilet entrance – it adds content to the non-existent conversation - but for the rest of us, that draught from the frequently-opened door, the clash of cutlery at the work station, the looming pillar blocking your view of any helpful staff can make you unwilling to return.
Now, the problem lies inherently with us and particularly this stiff upper lip thing we like to call British; it especially applies to our peculiarly servile attitude when eating out. 'Yes we're 10 minutes late, so as punishment we shall happily accept that tiny rickety table set up just handily by the waste bins so we may simply forage for our own food rather than bother you...' Sound familiar? We'd like to think we're getting over it, but how often have you ever complained about your seating arrangement before you sit down, or suggested an alternative? You are paying for this meal, you can sit anywhere you choose, within reason, and seating plans can be adjusted. Flexibility is key.
Naturally forewarned is forearmed and so in comes Table Guru. Their startlingly simple premise, beginning with Michelin-starred restaurants in London (on the basis that if you're paying that much, you definitely want a good table), is to offer diner-rated floorplans of the dining rooms so you can see in advance where the hot – and not-so-hot – spots are to sit. They've added ratings for Romance and Business and View (presumably external) as well as basic red and green markers to rate general areas. They can't give actual table plans as restaurants change layouts all the time, but the basic idea holds good. Their plan is to extend across both the industry and the country and there is also the potential to eventually book online.
As an idea, we think it's got potential. It would be nice to know your options before you sit down, to have that superior knowledge at your fingertips as you enter and not have to battle to hear your dinner guests above the clang and clatter from the kitchen. Don't we all long to enter a joint and hear 'your usual table, Sir/Madam?'
So would you use Table Guru? Does a good table enhance your experience or a bad table detract from it or are you just so into your guest(s) you wouldn't notice if the waiters sambad naked across the table? What's the worst table you've ever been given and did you complain? Did you get moved? And where's the best table in the country? Now you're in the hot seat. . .