Yesterday was a pretty good day for Olmsted: The beautiful little Prospect Heights spot was the subject of glowing, overwhelmingly positive reviews in both Eater and the New York Times. Both Ryan Sutton and Pete Wells praised chef Greg Baxtrom's intelligent, flavorful cooking, waxed poetic about the beauty of the working-garden backyard space, and tipped a hat to the restaurant's ability to indulge in a fine-dining sensibility without capitulating to the rarefied cost-and-culture constraints of a tasting menu.
Both critics also nodded to the fact that, with its a la carte menu and casual atmosphere, Olmsted is a decidedly neighborhood restaurant — albeit a pretty ritzy neighborhood. And, as Sutton noted, those are awfully delicate beasts to maintain: "A destination local restaurant presents a dilemma," he writes, "as adulation and accolades (not to mention suddently impossible-to-get-tables) tend to change a place."
About those impossible-to-get-tables: Olmsted books their reservations through OpenTable, and the online reservations behemoth recently unrolled a fun little feature that allows diners to see how many times in the past day a restaurant has been booked. Sutton's three-star review went up at 12:23 p.m., and just three minutes later I (along with a brace of other excited Eater editors) tabbed over to OpenTable to book a meal. "Booked 61 times today," read the restaurant's page — which, for a 50-seat restaurant like Olmsted, was probably significantly more than their daily reservation average.
"We probably get between 10 and 20 reservations per day on average," Olmsted general manager Max Katzenberg told me, when I called the restaurant to check out my hypothesis. He checked the previous days' reservation count — a mere 12 hours before the restaurant was thrust into the double spotlight of Eater and the Times — and confirmed that they'd booked exactly 10 tables in the 24 hours of August 8. And yet at 12:26 p.m. on August 9, after just an hour or so of the Sutton-Wells group hug, they'd already sextupled that figure. (And then there's today, August 10, the day the Times food section hits print subscribers: Between midnight and midday, the restaurant had 324 bookings, and it's climbing fast.)
I tracked the reservation number listed on OpenTable over the rest of the day — it glitched out around 7 p.m., stuck on 299 for hours — but the steady progress is fascinating. (Check out the jump between 5:03 and 5:26 p.m., for example — Eater sent out our email newsletter, with Sutton's review in the headline, at 5:05.) Book your tables now, cool kids. And order the carrot crepe!