Submitted by scurvy4all t3_yhjcqy in Maine

I tried posting this in /r/MaineFood but I wasn't able too.

My Brother and I are NH natives and have been trying to get a table at The Lost Kitchen for years. We've have sent Postcards yearly but have not been lucky enough to get a table.

Does anyone know if there is another way of being able to go? We just want a table for four.

Any help would be much appreciated thank you.



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walkabout5 t1_iue6a83 wrote

There was a show (can't remember what) that interviewed the owner and she said they pick the postcards that most appeal to folks that want to propose or something special like that, have higher odds of getting a table.


e2346437 t1_iue8vt1 wrote

This here, saw the same show. It's not a random pick of the card; it's catching their eye.


scurvy4all OP t1_iueif67 wrote

Thanks I didnt know that. I'll get creative.


SPARC_Pile t1_iufz1js wrote

They actually strip down all the cards and run it through a lottery machine.

"Cards with poems, recipes, stories, and drawings all get shoved into a lottery machine to be drawn at random, and even though that essentially renders all the cards’ artistry meaningless"

It's a fixed menu with no substitutions, expensive as hell, and in the middle of nowhere in Freedom.

It really isn't worth it.


Girhinomofe t1_iuelvv4 wrote

My wife and I have been twice— once in 2017 and a second time in 2018. The rise in popularity has been atmospheric starting with the lead-in to the 2017 season, and at this point I take Erin and her staff at word that it is a straight-up lottery to get a dinner reservation.

Leading into the 2017 season was a feature article in Maine magazine which put the radar on for a lot of people— way more than TLK’s staff expected. It was a phone-in reservation system, with the line opening at midnight on 1 April. We, and thousands of others, flooded the voicemail to the point where even catching the mailbox when it was being cleared was a matter of persistence. I woke up at 4am to call in and got to leave a voicemail, and was called back a couple days later to schedule a reservation (for October, mind you). The staff were up for over a day straight just logging voicemail callback numbers and clearing the mailbox, which led to the current postcard system.

In 2018 my wife and I each made a snazzy artsy postcard, and mine was drawn early on— still, I feel like it was a random pull and had nothing to do with the appearance of the card. During our dinner she had the cards all laid out of that day’s guests, and some of them were very basic (while others were straight up beautiful, with watercolors and awesome hand lettering).

Since then, my wife and I have both made rad cards each year but have not been pulled. Keep in mind— there is one seating per night, 4 nights a week, with a capacity of 40 diners. That’s 160 diners a week. By and large, most reservations will be for 2-6 people, so the actual number of reservations is at least half that number. The season runs from early May to the end of October, so 6 months / 24 weeks of service.

At best case, you are talking about 1,920 available reservations for the entire year, and any 4-top or 6-top tables bring that number down. By all accounts, and with the popularity of a TLK TV show on Magnolia, she probably gets well in excess of 30,000 postcards in the spring. So yeah, do the math there— even if every res was a 2-person, and she only received 30k postcards, that’s still only a 6% chance of being plucked.

We will continue to send in postcards every year, and heck, we may never be able to dine at The Lost Kitchen again in our lives, but we know it’s all just a lucky draw from here on out—


scurvy4all OP t1_iueoqw1 wrote

Thank you for the in depth reply. I might need to buy 1000 post cards and send 100 a week lol.

My brother will be so happy if I'm able to to get in.


Girhinomofe t1_iueq9a2 wrote

Ah, but it’s not like that!

The window for postcards is usually April 1-April 15, and they start drawing names on the 16th. If they draw (or see) a duplicate card, you’ll be disqualified for the season. Yeah, that means that if you get pulled, and called, your reservation is set, and they find another card from you— they’ll call back to cancel the res!

I give credit to Erin and staff for the old school system to keep it honest and give everyone a fair chance. They have way, way, way more demand than they can serve, and I remember seeing an interview where she didn’t want to let the reservations come down to someone who writes a script to pinch reservations online before humans can click through.

I would venture to say it’s one of the most exclusive reservations in the US, and I think that The Lost Kitchen has done a decent job to keep it fair on getting a spot for dinner.


scurvy4all OP t1_iufaj7y wrote

That's actually really amazing. I'm happy to know that it can't be rigged. Thanks for the info.


Kristishere t1_iui0mt3 wrote

Honest time. Is the food THAT good, or is it just good? Any place you've gone that compares, or is better? I'll keep trying, regardless, but I admit, I'd be pretty disappointed if its only as good as say, The Treehouse Restaurant in Portland.


mr-mfer t1_iuf6ebl wrote

I used to work for TLK actually. And the place is just so popular. They literally go through thousands of postcards every year. It's quite an unorthadox way of booking a reservation but the noteriety they've received over the years is unprecedented for a restaurant in Maine. Sorry you haven't been able to get in. I recommend checking out The Lost Kitchen tv series on discovery+. I'm sure that'll give you some perspective on how this all works.


Kristishere t1_iue1yau wrote

I've only tried once myself, but would love to get a chance at this too. Do you know anyone who's been?


scurvy4all OP t1_iue2v99 wrote

Nope me but my Brother said his boss went and that's how he heard about it.

To be honest I could care less about it but it means a lot to him so I'mbgoong to do my best to make it happen!


Anstigmat t1_iuezru9 wrote

You have to be super creative with the post card. Did you know you can mail a coconut without packaging? Think outside the box. But be creative and fun.


SwvellyBents t1_iuffrl2 wrote

Great to read all the awesome experiences and tips here, thanks folks!

We were similarly enchanted with the idea of going to the Bracebridge Dinner in Yosemite Valley back in the 80s and 90s. It was a purely random lottery draw that we entered for about 8 years straight before we finally were selected in 1994. We felt so overjoyed and fortunate!

Then, upon being seated at our table on that very special night we learned that for most of our table mates this was their second or even third Bracebridge. So much for the randomness. We never did learn how our neighbors managed to improve their luck, but we definitely felt like the poor relations at that table.

Here's hoping TLK is a little more even handed.


Slmmnslmn t1_iue4m3u wrote

I wonder if its about knowing someone? I worked as a gardener for this couple and they managed to go once a month every summer. No one else i know has even gotten a table.


siebzy t1_iuek2h1 wrote

You can buy your way in lol


Slmmnslmn t1_iuhj4l5 wrote

They had the money thats for sure. Closest i have been to "fuck you" money.


IllustriousAmbition9 t1_iuimllo wrote

I've been a couple of times, before all of the hullabaloo. The experience is fine, and it's perfectly good, but it in no way seems worth all of the hype it gets. It's not even in my top ten restaurants in Maine. Long Grain has better food and there's none of the postcard nonsense. I'm always sad when some Maine restaurant gets a writeup in the New Yorker, because it pretty much means I'll never be able to get in there again. It's the same exact thing that happened to Holy Donut. The donuts are good, but they are in no way so good that I will wait 2 hours to buy one.


siebzy t1_iuejlu0 wrote

Lol you can always give a bunch of money to their "nonprofit", I hear that works