We were booked in at Caravan Kings Cross, a place I'd been for drinks and brunch before. There's a wonderfully appealing menu (check it out here), a decent wine list, and a nice outside section where the somewhat gloomy backdrop of Kings Cross is positively rejuvenated by a bit of sun. Inside, the former grain store buzzes with energy and a feeling of creativity - its neighbours are Central St Martins College and The Guardian. So I had high hopes for the evening.
We arrived and were ushered towards a packed bar whilst we waited for our table, and were soon seated. Two people, at least one of which very much wants to get to know the other, can be excused for not being the most efficient of orderers as we chitted and chatted - but on repeated rounds our waitress got to the point of pushy. Finally, she explained that our table was only booked for two hours. Here's the thing that gripes me - I understand that a popular place will want to get as many covers through the door as possible, and I have no issue taking less than 2 hours for a meal, but it's the manner in which they present this. I had barely sat down opposite my companion and we were already thinking about when we would have to leave. The waitress even made recommendations on how much food to order based on how long we'd be at the table. The food, incidentally, was quite disappointing, which suggests that perhaps they should shift their dial slightly from quantity to quality, although given how full the place was I suspect that is not their primary concern.
I had a similar experience when booking a meal at the otherwise fabulous Hoi Polloi at Ace Hotel, Shoreditch, to be greeted by a brusque email confirmation:
"Thank you for choosing Hoi Polloi. Please assume your table is rebooked after two hours at dinner and one and a half hours during all other services."