How the recession ate into diners' table time

It is one of the most galling experiences known to the modern diner. Having finally succeeded in securing a table at a top restaurant at the hour of your choosing, no sooner have you been seated when you become aware of a panicky feeling that your allotted time in this gastronomic promised land is rapidly ticking away.

Restaurants forced to contend with the economic downturn, or simply to cope with the overwhelming appetite of patrons for sampling their wares, are increasingly resorting to the practice of "table-turning" – asking customers with reservations to leave their table by an appointed time so other diners can be seated.

Research shows that in at least five restaurants across Britain, diners pay more than £1 a minute for the pleasure of eating. The Plate of the Nation study of more than 100 restaurants, carried out by the website, found that 15 per cent imposed a maximum dining time at busy periods. More than half of the 2,000 diners questioned said they found being asked to "sup up and ship out" annoying.

The most expensive restaurant per minute was the Michelin-starred Hakkasan, a celebrated hangout of Premiership footballers and passing Hollywood A-listers in search of a top-end Chinese meal in London's Soho. With an average meal for two at £148 and a two-hour time limit, sitting down to eat there is likely to cost £1.23 every 60 seconds.

A spokesman for the restaurant, which also has branches in Miami and Abu Dhabi, said: "Since our launch, Hakkasan has consistently been one of the most popular restaurants in London and, to satisfy this demand, we operate a time limit on our tables, a policy all of our valued and loyal customers are aware of."

Second on the list was Midsummer House in Cambridge, with two Michelin stars, which charged £1.16 per minute. Its head chef, Daniel Clifford, said that of its 12 tables only two were rotated on Friday and Saturday nights when demand was at its peak. He said guests were allotted three hours and had the option of taking coffee in the lounge or in the garden overlooking the River Cam.

The other three restaurants which charged more than £1 per minute were Zuma in Knightsbridge, South-west London, Hibiscus in Mayfair, central London, and Simpsons, of Edgbaston, Birmingham. Mark Bower, the lifestyle director at, said diners understood that restaurants had to make money

But he added: "When they are being asked to spend more than £1 per minute for their meal, foodies will question the value of their chosen eatery. We are urging diners to check table-turning policies when booking and to negotiate just how much time they have for their meal to avoid feeling rushed."

Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    C++ Software Engineer - Hounslow, West London - C++ - to £60K +

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Visitor Experience volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...

    Telesales Manager. Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Day In a Page

    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform