So this is my first post here, please let me know if I've made any mistakes or put it in the wrong place!
Yesterday I tried to make a reservation at Alo, and I wanted to share the experience for the benefit of others that will try to do the same in the future. (I did end up getting one, just not what I wanted)
If you don't know, Alo is currently being raved about both on Chowhound and in more mainstream media as one of the best restaurants in the city, if not the country. Interested? Well you will have to wait because they are fully booked - but feel free to join a waitlist for your preferred time!
At Alo, they offer two types of meals. The Tasting Menu ($125/guest) where you are seated in a traditional dining room, and the Extended Tasting Menu ($155/guest) where you are at bar-style seating with full view of the kitchen. When you place a reservation for the Tasting menu, you must pay a non-refundable $50 deposit per guest, while for the extended you must pay the full amount up front. The fees do not include drinks, tips, and tax which will be applied at the end of the meal.
Reservations open the first Tuesday of every other month at 10 am EST, the most recent being yesterday, April 3, 2018, in two-month blocks. At the appointed day and time, you got to https://www.exploretock.com/alorestau..., pick which menu you prefer, select the day and time, and pay your deposit. If only it were that simple.
I had set 3 days of staged alarms so it would stay front-of-mind leading up to the 3rd. I made sure I had a clear schedule at work, had the windows on my computer open with my phone as a back-up. At 5-minutes to 10, I start obsessively refreshing the website, waiting for the new block of dates to open. At around 10:02 the dates are unlocked! I open the Extended Menu, go to my date, and in the time it took me to select the time I wanted -which was at most 2 seconds- the entirety of the Extended menu for the next months were 100% booked.
I revert to the normal Tasting Menu, in this time all of the availability for Friday and Saturday are also gone. I quickly start searching for anything that's left, and settle on a 9pm listing on an alternate day. Pay my $100, and feel terrible for the rest of the day. I'm glad I got a table, however with all my planning I had fully expected to get what I wanted, and I hate it when reality crushes those expectations.
By the way, after a couple hours, you can still get tables for the regular tasting menu at the less popular times: Tues/Wed/Thurs at 5pm, 9pm, and 9:15pm. But within 24 hours those will certainly be booked as well.
In the end, I wanted to share my experience for two reasons. One to help others know what to expect in making a reservation for this very popular restaurant, and second to ask for any advice on how to more reliably book your desired experience.
Thanks for reading my part rant part advice post!