Wherein we call some of Vancouver's buzziest restaurants to see just how hard it is to snag a table.

I have plenty of relatives and friends from my home, the province of Alberta, who love to visit us in Vancouver. They also love two other things: complaining about the rain here, despite it blizzarding in Wild Rose Country, and wanting to go out to dinner on a moment's notice. It's not like that here, I tell them. You need to plan well in advance. And they say, "Fine!" and look at you like you've changed.

I actually hate making reservations for anything. They hang over you, cramping your freedom to head to Bali at the drop of a hat. Haircuts? I'll call my hairdresser for weeks, looking for a day-of cancellation. Teeth cleaning? Never heard of it. But the hard truth is that such freewheelin' don't work in YVR. Two weeks ago, I popped by Savio Volpe just before 8 p.m. on a Thursday to see if two of us could get in—we would've been happy to sit at the bar. And we were in luck: there was only a two-hour wait (that's not a joke, btw).

So I figured I'd embark on a mildly scientific exercise to see which one Vancouver's buzzy restaurants is the trickiest reservation in town. The method: I attempted to make reservations at a predetermined list of restaurants for a variety of dates with various numbers of diners. I chose six local spots where I think it's tough to nab a table at: Savio Volpe, St. Lawrence, Kissa Tanto, Nightingale and AnnaLena. (Spots that don't accept reservations—Medina Cafe, Ask for Luigi, every ramen place, for example—weren't considered.)

The restaurants I called were rewarded points for how far away the closest available reservation was to the requested date and time. (In other words, the more points a restaurant received, the harder it was to land a reservation there at the requested date and time.) All the requests were made on Thursday, July 18. I noted the closest available time the restaurant had in response to my request. Here are the results:

The Reservation Request: Tuesday, July 23rd, 4 people, 7 p.m.

1st Kissa Tanto: All full (5 points)

2nd St. Lawrence: 10 p.m. (4 points)

3rd Savio Volpe: 9 p.m. (3 points)

4th AnneLena: 8:15 p.m. (2 points)

5th Nightingale: 6:30 p.m. (1 point)

The Reservation Request: Friday, July 26th, 2 people, 7 p.m.

1st Kissa Tanto: 10 p.m. (5 points)

2nd St. Lawrence: 9:45 p.m. (4 points)

3rd Savio Volpe: 9:30 p.m. (3 points)

4th AnnaLena: 6 or 8 p.m. (2 points)

5th Nightingale: 6:30 p.m. (1 point)

The Reservation Request: Friday, August 2nd, 4 people, 7 p.m. (More than two weeks out)

1st Savio Volpe: 9:30 p.m. (5 points)

2nd St. Lawrence: 9 p.m. (4 points)

3rd AnnaLena: 5:45 p.m. (3 points)

4th Kissa Tanto: 6 p.m. (2 points)

5th Nightingale: 6:30 p.m. (1 point)

The Reservation Request: Thursday, August 8th, 6 people, 7:30 p.m. (Three weeks out)

1st (tie) Savio Volpe: 9:30 p.m. (5 points)

1st (tie) St. Lawrence: 9:30 p.m. (5 points—the reservation had to be adjusted to 5 people to land this time)

1st (tie) AnnaLena: 5:30 p.m. (5 points)

4th Kissa Tanto: 9 p.m. (2 points)

5th Nightingale: 7:30 p.m. (1 point)

The Results

With 17 points, our quick survey shows that St. Lawrence is the hardest reservation in town, followed by Savio Volpe (16 points), Kissa Tanto (14 points), AnnaLena (12 points) and Nightingale (4 points). These results generally align with what my original thoughts were: a good reservation at St. Lawrence is rarely given up—instead, you just put the word out that you can't use it and one of your friends will happily take your place. The only head-scratcher is the suggestion that Nightingale is easy to get into—it's not. Every time I call, at least, I crap out trying to get a spot. May the odds be in your favour.