Courtesy of Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.

You can still get on the waitlist if you didn't get picked. 

Elisabeth Sherman
April 12, 2018

The hottest table in America is not a Michelin-starred French bistro or a chic café in the Hamptons. It’s a tiny restaurant in the woodlands of Maine, called The Lost Kitchen. It’s the only restaurant in the town of Freedom—population estimated at around 706 people—but it’s recently been overwhelmed by mail from every corner of the globe, sent by eager diners looking to secure one of its very few, and coveted, seats.

Martha Stewart once called it one of her favorite restaurants in the country. The Boston Globe praised it as one of the best restaurants in Maine. When food enthusiasts began to catch wind of this (literal) hidden gem, they clamored at the opportunity to eat there. Last April, the restaurant’s owner and chef, Erin French, received 10,000 calls in 24 hours from people hoping to snag a table, a huge influx that actually tied up the emergency phone lines for the county’s fire department.

Hoping to calm the storm of potential customers, French decided to take a different approach to making reservations this season (one that matches the restaurant’s rustic aesthetic): She asked interested parties to mail in their reservation requests

French created an extremely detailed instruction manual for how to apply (the deadline was April 10, sorry!) which you can read here, but in short, anyone looking to enter the reservation lottery had to mail in a notecard to the restaurant with their personal information. French would then choose cards at random (the exact number of available seatings has not been specified), offering reservations to the senders.

“The pick is just literally reaching into a bucket and pulling a card out,” Michael Dutton told local news station WGME. “If you get picked, you get called.”

French received cards from Hong Kong, Malaysia, and the United Kingdom, as well as places all over the United States. While the Post Office wouldn’t comment on the exact number of cards it received in Freedom, the number clocks in at well over 10,000.

There’s a silver lining for anyone who missed out on this round of reservations (or just didn’t get picked): French promises that the restaurant's waitlist will open at the beginning of every month and recommends that you watch The Lost Kitchen Facebook page for further updates. The restaurant opens May 11 until the end of its season on New Year’s Eve.