Five ways to find there’s no seat at the table (and one way to learn there is)

Recessions lead to less time at the restaurant table, but the results have been a mixed bag for the top restaurants in the top city in the world. Manhattan‘s highest-profile establishments are still generally filling up during peak times, though you can occasionally worm your way into a great time slot on an important day. Just don’t expect to sit far from the bathroom or the kitchen.

1. Masa
There’s room at Masa, according to Bloomberg News. You’ll pay a fortune, but at least you’ll get to eat. Table for two at 8 PM on a Friday night? Done. Go for the $400 prix-fixe menu. Bar Boulud also had space on Friday at 8 PM. Jean Georges came close, with 8:30 PM available.

2. Adour Alain Ducasse
You can get close to greatness at Adour Alain Ducasse … and I’m not talking about the chef. Lili Rosboch, who went through this ordeal for Bloomberg, was told she could get a spot at 6:30 or 9 PM.

3. Babbo
Good luck: the official word is that you can hope for a cancellation or hope to get a spot at the bar. If you’re trying to plan past the end of the month, don’t bother. Babbo is only taking reservations through October 30, 2009.

4. Craft
Instead of 8 PM, try 5:30 (lunch, instead?). Or, you could get something at Craft after 9:15, it seems. Either way, 8 PM isn’t going to happen, Rosboch learned.

5. Eleven Madison Park
Eleven Madison Park had one of the best responses. Instead of being able to deliver any time on the Friday in question (or the following Saturday), the restaurant offered a time slot several weeks away. Daniel did this, as well. Le Bernardin also suggests booking a month in advance. Momofuku Ko, on the other hand, only takes reservations a week in advance – and insists that you book it online.

And, one more is worth a look …

Per Se
Per Se‘s situation (and answer) must have been a shock to Rosboch’s system. As quoted by her in Bloomberg: “For which Friday night? We are fully reserved. I can put your name on a waiting list. We’re fully booked on the 9th as well. We have nothing in October and we’re booked all the way out till November.”