Updated 4/5/15 with more details:
It had been rumoured for a while, but now a London restaurant, The Clove Club, has taken the plunge and taken on the ticketing method that's been made popular by Chicago restaurant Alinea. Later this year, you'll only be able to get a seat at the main restaurant by using the Tock tickets system.
What does this mean in practice? It's essentially the same as booking a theatre or concert ticket - with times being the main variation (as opposed to better or worse seats). The system also allows prices to vary depending on the desirability of the time and day - so an early supper on Saturday would cost less than a prime-time spot at dinner.
Once you've booked, that's it - you've committed. In many ways, it's the next step on from no reservations. This way, a restaurant that is affected by no-shows is completely covered as it puts the burden on individual customers to turn up for their booking (or sell on the ticket if they can't make it).
"We’re really excited to be the first restaurant in the UK to adopt TOCK," says Clove Club co-founder Daniel Willis, "and feel it’s a great system for our diners as well as the industry."
It'll be interesting to see just how it takes off - reaction on Twitter has been very mixed with some understanding the stance of the Clove Club and others just bemoaning it as a different form of bookings that require a credit card. Plus similar systems that other restaurants tried to introduce haven't been that well received. But one way or another, we expect this isn't the last restaurant to start with such a ticketing system.
4/5/15 - update
In an email sent out to their customers today, the Clove Club expanded on what the ticketing system means for them. They'll only be using it for bookings for the tasting menu at dinner - lunch bookings and bookings for the bar menu will still be taken by phone.
"You choose the date and number of people you want to buy tickets for (for dinner this will be for our 5-Course Tasting Menu). The option to pay an additional fee to book our Extended Menu as well as matched wine pairings will also be available. Then you present your booking confirmation on the night, enjoy your dinner and pay for your drinks and service at the end of the night."
The system goes online tomorrow (5 May 2015) at 10am for dinner bookings for the 8 June onwards.