The early bird special is back in fashion – and I for one am perfectly fine with sitting in a restaurant at 6.30pm
The 10pm curfew has been a terrible thing for the restaurant business. The shortfall in income that comes from not being able to turn a table towards the end of the evening is tricky, if not impossible, to make up, and it’s a miserable, slightly stressful business, having to urge customers to hurry and clear their plates once the clock strikes 9.30pm. But for me, at least, there’s something weirdly freeing about it. Basically, the early bird special has at last been socially sanctioned, and as a result I have reverted to type. Last week, I twice ate out at 6.30pm, and with two of my chicest girlfriends – at whose suggestion, quite brilliantly, this unfeasibly early hour was in the first place.
Growing up, we always ate our dinner, which we called our tea, at around 5.15pm in the week, and at six at the latest at the weekend – and to be frank, I liked it (not that I knew any different). For one thing, I was always hungry by then. Lying on my bed, dreaming of the day when a man in a black polo neck would whisk me off for supper (and other things) at the unimaginably late hour of 8pm, the rumblings in my stomach would usually begin at 4pm. For another, it meant you had time afterwards to flick through Smash Hits, to talk endlessly on the telephone (yes, it was in the hall) to your best friend, or even to go out. In the summer, it was very heaven. Tea, then a walk. Meeting a boy at the pub. Sitting in the park with your pals and a bottle.
I used to think it was fashionable to eat late. Curfew changed that