TALULA’S TABLE, KENNETT SQUARE, US
With just one table available for dinner, can Talula’s Table really be called a restaurant? For the thousands of foodies willing to wait at least a year for a seat at the coveted 12-seater restaurant, it doesn’t matter what the café and market-by-day, farm-table-diner-by-night eatery is called. Unlike most must-eat-at restaurants, Talula’s is nestled away from the bright city lights in Kennett Square, Philadelphia, and offers its lucky patrons an eight-course tasting menu, with each item sourced and prepared specifically for each evening. The night is concluded with a cheese course, espresso, and dessert service.
How to make a reservation: Once you have gathered eight to 11 guests to join you, you can call at exactly 7am, 365 days in advance. talulastable.com/tt
SUKIYABASHI JIRO, TOKYO, JAPAN
Three Michelin stars and a world-famous chef were always going to catapult Sukiyabashi Jiro into the league of restaurants with coveted tables. Add to that famous clientele, including former US president Barack Obama, and the 10-seater sushi bar becomes one of the most “must eat at” restaurants in the world. The 91-year-old owner and founder of the Tokyo eatery even features in the fêted documentary, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, made about his edible art, for which fans and foodies are willing to wait at least a month.
How to make a reservation: Unless you are the president of the US dining with the Japanese prime minister, call on the first of the month, a month in advance. If you’re in town on business, rumour has it that booking through a hotel increases your chance of success. sushi-jiro.jp/dining-at-jiro
DAMON BAEHREL, EARLTON, NEW YORK
Eponymous restaurant Damon Baehrel is already booked until 2025, but if you have the patience to wait years for a seat at this private restaurant, tucked away in the basement of the chef’s New York home, then read on. This self-taught gastronomic maestro has amassed a cult following for his 15-course meals. Baehrel not only prepares the meals himself, but also grows and treats his own food, including pine-needle-cured meat. Baehrel also makes his own cheese, waits tables, and doubles up as a sommelier.
How to make a reservation: Baehrel apparently stopped accepting bookings in April 2014. That said, an email to his restaurant might yield some luck, especially for those with a flexible schedule, as a space could open up if the chef adds extra seating. People with food allergies are in for an even longer wait as the chef needs to be in a position to accommodate the requirements. According to Baehrel, cancellations are nonexistent. damonbaehrel.com
EL CELLER DE CAN ROCA, GIRONA, SPAIN
The Roca brothers are rock stars in the town of Girona, where their renowned restaurant El Celler de Can Roca attracts thousands of foodies. The three brothers, who founded the quirky, avant-garde eatery in 1986, offer multiple-course tasting menus, which sometimes include caramelised olives suspended on a bonsai tree, sole with myriad sauces, and charcoal-grilled lamb. The restaurant is also famed for its extensive wine cellar, rumoured to boast 60 000 bottles. For those unable to snatch a booking, you can try for a seat at one of the brothers’ five other restaurants.
How to make a reservation: Make sure to have your debit or credit card at hand to guarantee your seat. Set your alarm for midnight (Spanish time) when online reservations open on the first of every month. Wait 11 months. Good luck. cellercanroca.com
TICKETS, BARCELONA, SPAIN
Landing a ticket to Tickets, the indulgent tapas bar owned and run by famed chef Ferran Adrià and his brother Albert will see you enjoying a carnival-esque dining experience at their 90-seater restaurant, where guests are welcomed, fittingly, through an old-school, circus ticket-booth entrance. The open kitchens specialise in different preparation methods, and guests can enjoy the show at one of the five small-plates bars. The myriad dishes include home-salted tuna belly with Iberian cured ham, and liquid ravioli with payoyo cheese, while the dessert area is described as a modern-day Candyland, with giant berries hanging from the ceiling.
How to make a reservation: Online bookings open every day for a date two months in advance. ticketsbar.es
D.O.M., Sáo Paulo, Brazil, domrestaurante.com.br/en/home.htmlPujol, Mexico City, Mexico, pujol.com.mx/enSushidai, Tokyo, Japan, facebook.com (search for “Sushi Dai”)Next, Chicago, Illinois, US, nextrestaurant.comAstrid y Gastón, Lima, Peru, en.astridygaston.com
PEOPLE WHO’VE LANDED A GOLDEN TICKET
Not many people can say they have tucked into the tasting menu at Osteria Francescana in Italy, one of the world’s best restaurants, but hairstylist David Gilson recently had the honour. “I had to change my flight because the day before I was going, I got a lunch booking,” he said of the experience. After booking online three months before and waiting an hour to secure a spot, Gilson says the experience was well worth it. “I love eating at special places. Also if you tell me I can’t have it, I want it even more!” The experience set him back R5 000. “You know what, it was amazing. The chef (Massimo Bottura) was there himself, and we took a photo with him.”
Opera director Alessandro Taveli knows someone who knows someone who could get him a table at 10-seater sushi restaurant Sukiyabashi Jiro. “I know the landlord of the building where the restaurant is, so I was able to get a table,” he says. A perk was sitting directly opposite the world-famous sushi master and owner, Jiro Ono. “It was nerve-wracking. I was watching him prepare the food; he was watching me back.” Although he’s a sushi aficionado, Taveli says that because of the difference in the rice used by Ono, a softer variation, he worried about dropping a piece while trying to eat it. “It was amazing and I have a photo with (Ono),” he says.