User's Guide

The Minetta Tavern Has a Secret Number. But How Well Does It Work?

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It shouldn’t surprise you that the Minetta Tavern has a “preferred-customer line” — when it comes to secret numbers, Keith McNally has always been the Sasha Petraske of restaurateurs. But does the Minetta Tavern’s VIP line really get the job done? We called the number (it goes straight to a reservationist instead of being answered by a machine) and asked for an 8 p.m. table for two next Monday. Without asking for a name, they told us the best they could do was 6 p.m. or 10:30 p.m. Hmmm, anything closer to 8 p.m. during the rest of the week? Only 6 p.m. or 10 p.m. on Sunday (the easiest day). Drat! But wait, here’s the funny part …

Just a minute later, we called the regular Minetta line (the one for mere plebes) and were told that while, no, they didn’t have a 8 p.m. table on Monday (just 6 p.m. or 10:30 p.m. — same as the “preferred customer” reservationist told us), they did have a 9 p.m. table on Sunday. So we actually got a better table using the regular line! When we asked what the deal was, our flustered reservationist explained that despite our experience, the “preferred-customer line” was the best one to use in order to take advantage of cancellations, etc. Of course, knowing McNally, there’s probably also another number (or two!) for V.V.I.P.’s (for instance, Caroline Kennedy, who was spotted in the dining room last night).

If you don’t have any of the secret numbers, the lesson here is this: When a restaurant has multiple reservationists, it sometimes helps to call back in case one of them is more accommodating than the other (kind of like going to a different ticket agent when you’re not getting the results you want from an airline).

Related: Just How Hard Is It to Get Into Minetta Tavern If You’re Not Madonna?

The Minetta Tavern Has a Secret Number. But How Well Does It Work?