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Louisa Chu

El Bulli 2005 Reservations

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Timing, flexibility, appreciation, persistance. All in all, no matter how exhaustive and thorough is the process followed by Luis García, he can't possibly spend too much time looking at each specific request.

If as a working hypothesis we assume that he receives just a 20% of the 500,000 requests they get for the season in the first two months (October and November), he would have to process around 5 requests per minute doing nothing else but this eight hours a day, five days a week in those two months.

Revallo asked about this in the eG Forums Q&A with Ferran Adria.


PedroEspinosa (aka pedro)

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Timing is everything. I suspect one of the reasons we have a high number of reservations is that members responded to a timely notice here.

My guess is as good as anyone's, but, fwiw, I agree with Bux. A truly professional restaurant - apart from certain provisions for friends - will operate on a "first come, first served" basis. When the book is full, the book is full. Open requests have the advantage of being considered for the dates not yet filled in, after definite reservations have been dealt with.

Think about it: Luis Garcia carefully reads those who applied in time. Others (applying now, for instance) will necessarily get a standard, honest "sorry, we're full" reply.

I don't think it's intelligent to read anything else into his procedure - such as it being more democratic or biased towards people with more passion (or connections) than others. This is the time-honoured civilized practice and El Bulli, imo, does well to follow it. What is outstanding and praiseworthy is the attention and care Luis Garcia dedicates to those lucky enough (Louisa-warned enough!) to apply earlier, when a lazier and less considerate maître d' could just wait until next year and just send out confirmations, rather than (as he does) take the trouble to acknowledge requests and be so extraordinarily polite and civilized, as if El Bulli were desperate for customers.

I don't want to praise Louisa yet again but, by golly, the first glass I raise in El Bulli shall be to her health.

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Hey Miguel, what about me? I take eight pills in the morning, two at night, am soon to have a minor surgery, and have the two major epicurean maladies. Louisa is young and healthy; please don't waste a toast, as wonderful as she is. (Well okay then, I'll take the second glass).

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I take eight pills in the morning, two at night, am soon to have a minor surgery, and have the two major epicurean maladies. Louisa is young and healthy; please don't waste a toast, as wonderful as she is. (Well okay then, I'll take the second glass).

Ah, dear Robert, stop already with the flooding of cherished memories of those balmy, carefree days when ten pills and minor surgery was all it took and the word omeprazole evoked an unknown Neapolitan knack for making an omelette in a particularly pleasant way; when I took endoscopy to mean some dubious, New Age psychological technique to look into ourselves and get in touch with our inner selves; when I spent more time with my best friends than with my gastro-enterologist.

You - and our fellow sufferers - ( don't the things we do for the Culinary Arts, with not an ounce of recognition, much less public gratitude, for the service we provide, make you dizzy? They certainly do me!) - you and all our friends I regularly and cheerfully toast and shamelessly butter up as often as I do fresh bread. Don't tell me you haven't felt the benefits of these incantations recently?! Surely your doctor has remarked on the unusually rosy blush that's lately blooomed on your cheeks, far beyond the rigorous chomping and wine-chewing workouts you insist on submitting them to?

On this specific trip - since Roses isn't currently around the corner from Lisbon - I intend to drink your health (and the final stages of mine, such as it can still be spoken of) for the length of the journey, wherever I stop for succour and refreshments.

On a not-unrelated topic, I wonder how many eGulleteers with reservations were tempted to try to influence the course of culinary events at El Bulli by taking advantage of Luis Garcia's polite invitation to mention any food allergies they might have? My voracious brother, sister and I (before we became the discriminating gastronomes we are today...), faced with what seemed like (at the very least) three elaborate, multi-course wedding meals every month, became wily experts on eating as many expensive delicacies as we possibly could (regardless of whether we actually liked them - say you what you like, but we were open-minded), by claiming we were allergic to any trivial, unnecessary accompaniments, such as we could get at home on a bad day. Though no waiter, however gullible or sympathetic to the whims of spoilt brats, ever believed that, say, plain boiled Basmati rice was as f****** poison to our delicate systems - and could he please make up for this misfortune by adding another helping of those fat, fragrant curried jumbo shrimps he was so miserly doling out?

As it happens, Robert, my gastro-enterologist is approaching 90 and reminds me of me when I was 25, such are his epicurean readiness and health. And, although he's had the grace never to actually pronounce the words, I'm sensitive enough to know, from the pity and contempt on his Lord of the Rings face, that every three or four syllables he says are to be symbolically understood as ritually interrupted by the unspoken but vibrationally deafening mantra of "It's your own fault, you know, you greedy bastard, you!"

Thank God it's another, entirely separate doctor - alas, even smugger - who deals with my liver. No sane physician with the least drop of sanctimony or an appreciation for medical justice and appropriate moral punishment could handle both.

Para que vivas, Roberto! ["Here's hoping you stay alive!"] - for that is the traditional Portuguese toast. Being a melancholy and pessimistic people, we seem to regard just about keeping alive as the best possible blessing there is. When you get to where I am today, you'll appreciate it, believe me! :)


Edited by MiguelCardoso (log)

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Just how many of eGullet members have reservations for mid-to late May, 2005?

I'll be there on May 25th. I've only posted a few times on eGullet so far, so that couldn't have influenced my getting in. I've been sadly lax in following the rest of this discussion, but I plan to hit the rest of the local places that have been mentioned (Rafa's, Snackmar, and anything else in Louisa's wonderful blog). I think it helped that I was flexible, and that I was reloading the "Spain and Portugal" forum once an hour on October 14th.

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Miguel - you are hilarious - and really entirely too sweet to me! As Robert's said, hopefully I will not need to any toasts to my health - but any would be most certainly gratefully appreciated.

blakej - thanks so much for visiting my blog too.

Another place to add to the Roses restaurant list is Cal Campaner - telephone number 972 25 69 54. A chef de partie who grew up in the area says it's like Rafa's - fresh local fish - but less expensive.

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A few of questions:

1- What is the dress code? Business causual? Is a jacket recommneded/required?

2- A sort of menu question for those who have been before. does El Bulli offer wine tasting selections along with the dinner menu like American fine dining restaurants do? Or is wine offered by the bottle only?

3- Is a service charge typically included on the final bill? Is a tip expected?

This will be our first 3 star meal in Europe :smile: and I want to be as informed as possible.

Thanks

Elie


E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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Hi Fodman,

I had diner at El bulli in may, last year. As I am used to do in France, I wore a suit without a tie, and was quite surprised, discovering that 3 out of 4 guests there were wearing a sweater or a short-sleeved shirt;

Regarding the wine, unfortunately they did not offer a wine tasting selection ( but as the prices are low, a t least far lower to France ***, you can taste some... ;-)

btw, soomething that I think was very elegant, is that for the aperitif, we had a glass of cava, and they do refill your glass untill the end of the first 4 ir 5 starters but don't charge you for that _ it's like BK or taco bell :-)

In Spain I think there's a 7% vta not included int the price shown on the menu, but you don't legally have to add a tip, but it is appreciated, and the guys there are so nice, that I wouldn't think not to give them a tip.


Let Eat Be

Food, Wine & other Delights

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A few of questions:

1- What is the dress code? Business causual? Is a jacket recommneded/required?

The dress code at elBulli is casual. You'll see people in a number of attires, ranging from tie and jacket (the less numerous group), to people with T-shirts. Last summer, I hardly recall seeing anyone with tie and even with a jacket.

2- A sort of menu question for those who have been before. does El Bulli offer wine tasting selections along with the dinner menu like American fine dining restaurants do? Or is wine offered by the bottle only?

The lack of wine tasting selections is a common one among Spanish restaurants, even the top ones. elBulli is one of the offenders too.

3- Is a service charge typically included on the final bill? Is a tip expected?

Service is not included on the final bill, nor there's a legal obligation to tip. A tip is expected, but you have much more freedom about it than in the States. There's no minimum percentage established and the final amount is much closer related, I'd say, to the quality of service you receive. Leaving a 15% tip after some service I've experienced in the States or the UK should be forbidden by law.

Coming back to Spain and elBulli, a tip of 10% would be a very good one by Spanish standards.


PedroEspinosa (aka pedro)

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Let's discuss the current season and read members' reports of their meals in a new thread -- El Bulli 2005 Dining.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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