Separation from other people may be the last thing on your mind after the last two years, but there is something to be said for having an intimate dinner with your nearest and dearest. An experience that allows you to dabble in the vibrant hum of a restaurant and the proximity to others, but with the added privacy and luxury of your own personal space.
London is spoilt for choice when it comes to chef's tables and kitchen tables. They are not, however, simply your run of the mill private dining room. No - this is a dining area that has been formulated to highlight the best of a restaurant; personalised service, one-off menus and a kind of unparalleled insight into the kitchen that simply cannot be found in the back corner by the loos.
It is an experience synonymous with the higher echelons of dining – in particular, pricier fine dining establishments that lend themselves to a certain level of luxury. While many of the spots on this list firmly fall into that camp, it is not an exclusive concept, and spots like Dai Chi and Hawksmoor eschew the bank-breaking ideas for something a little more achievable.
Equally, many places aren’t private at all. Some are akin to gastronomical theatre, with the entire restaurant centred around the kitchen – the intimate space offering up a more unique experience than any private room ever could. Despite differences in purpose, they all hinge on the same concept – considered consumption of some of the city’s best food, getting up close and personal with the kitchen and the kind of one-off dining experience that is the exact antithesis to impersonal restaurants that churn out food like it’s running off a conveyor belt.
The best chef's tables in London
70 Wilton Road, SW1V 1DE
Sitting pretty in the heart of the restaurant, the kitchen table at A. Wong doubles as the bar, putting you right into the thick of things. It combines all the best elements of a kitchen table while still allowing you to take in the splendour that is a bustling restaurant full of excited diners. Andrew Wong himself is bustling away just in front of you, on hand to answer any questions you might have. For a restaurant with two Michelin stars, it’s a pretty dazzling experience to be placed so centrally to the action.
The Blue Posts Cellar, 28 Rupert Street, W1D 6DJ
Evelyn’s Table doesn’t simply have a chef’s table – it is a chef’s table. The entire restaurant hinges around this idea of dining as a personal experience. The three Selby brothers move around the kitchen with considered ease – and somehow manage to avoid killing each other in the process, which is more than you can say for most siblings. Having nabbed their first Michelin star in this year’s awards, the three brothers serve ten guests at two sittings an evening - so just twenty people a night - which makes this one of London’s most sought after dining experiences.
28 Upper Grosvenor Street, W1K 7EH
Not content with just one chef’s table, Corrigan’s Mayfair has opted for two - the smaller, more intimate Kitchen Library with space for six and the larger Chef’s Table which seats up to 14. The Kitchen Library sits within chef Richard Corrigan’s personal library, surrounded by books that hold importance and significance to the restaurant’s patron and the window into the kitchen allows you to sit toe-to-toe with the team as they cook. The Chef’s Table, meanwhile, is a warm, countryside-esque space that has something of a private club feel. It too features a window into the kitchen - one that can have the curtains drawn over it for added privacy if need be.
9 Seymour Street, W1H 7BA
The chef’s table at KOL is one of those spaces you would want to spend all your time in. Seemingly plucked directly from Oaxaca, the space is all brushed concrete, dark wood and palm fronds. Designed to evoke a home kitchen, it emanates a kind of warmth that swaddles diners in this soft, holiday feel. Even when the English weather is at its worst outside, here it is easy to feel just one step away from Mexico’s sunny shores. With a front row view to the restaurant’s development kitchen, the room can either be booked in its entirety, or guests can sign up for the ‘Chef’s Table Experience’, a unique 9-course tasting menu that offers insight into the culture that underpins KOL.
38 Groom Place, SW1X 7BA
Housed in a former townhouse in Belgravia, Muse by Tom Aikens feels like a trip down the rabbit hole and into wonderland. The 25-seat restaurant features two separate options for counter seating – both with a front row seat to the action. Aikens himself oversees a team with guidance and encouragement. There is no escaping from prying eyes when diners are sitting so close, and the team seems to know this. Everything occurs with a level of practised precision and considered calm. The menu itself is designed to evoke elements of Aikens’ childhood, with a focus on experiential dining.
12a Berkeley Square, W1J 6BS
Offering an almost panoramic view of the kitchen, Benares’ chef’s table seats eight. The one Michelin star restaurant is renowned for its modern Indian dishes, with this private dining experience only boosting its luxury rep. In a restaurant famous for seeing and being seen, it feels distinctly special to hide yourself away, with only the chefs for company.
Behind London Fields
20 Sidworth Street, E8 3SD
View on Instagram
Winning a Michelin star after being open for just 20 days, Behind in London Fields is something of an enigma on the London restaurant scene. It is classic fine dining given a typically East London twist. There is an air of informality, thanks in part to the open-air, kitchen table-style setting, and chef Andy Beynon runs it all with an air of the boy next door. There are no enormous egos to deal with here, just good, technically fascinating cooking from a team who know exactly what they’re doing.
The Barbary Next Door
16a Neal's Yard, WC2H 9DP
In a reasonably ingenious move, much-loved Covent Garden restaurant The Barbary opened up a chef's table-style counter space quite literally one door down from the main restaurant. It’s a move that not only expands their already in demand seating options, but it also offers an intimate take on the original’s coveted North African and Spanish-inspired cooking. Pull up a pew and revel in the cosy intimacy – and the fact you’ve managed to nab one in the first place.
Hélène Darroze at the Connaught
The Connaught Hotel, Carlos Place, W1K 2AL
If you make a reservation at Hélène Darroze's eponymous restaurant at the Connaught hotel, you're probably entitled to expect some amazing wines – especially if you manage to get a reservation at the hallowed Sommelier's Table or the futuristically feminine Chef's Table. The former can be found tucked away beneath the restaurant's famous kitchens, in the cellars that are home to more than 9,000 vintage bottles of top-notch wine, meaning you shouldn't have any trouble finding something to go with the three Michelin-starred food. The latter is situated next to the pass, with Darroze's notoriously peaceful kitchen for entertainment.
16a St Anne's Court, W1F 0BF
Simon Rogan's eight seater chef's table and development kitchen in London is truly like nothing else in the city. The L’Enclume icon has created a menu consisting of newly-developed dishes before they are potentially served at his sister restaurant, Roganic London. At the cost of £155 per person, Aulis’ tasting menu ain’t cheap. But it is spectacular. Wine pairings are, after all, included with your meal, each carefully chosen to complement the dishes, adding an extra dimension of excitement to the whole tantalisingly sordid affair. This is fine dining at its finest.
16 Winchester Walk, SE1 9AQ
The 16-seater Cook's Room at Hawksmoor's Borough site is a proper kitchen by day, when Richard Turner (the group's executive chef), Matt Brown (executive chef) and Carla Henriques (executive pastry chef) use it to cook up new ideas, but by night it becomes an events space with a menu that champions the restaurant's Borough Market neighbours, as well as playing host to regular producer-focused evenings. Yum.
70 Charlotte Street, W1T 4QG
A restaurant within a restaurant? Yep, we'll admit we're intrigued – especially given the reputation of James Knappett's Michelin-starred space, where the seats are all positioned at a counter around an open kitchen. “We want people to feel like we're cooking for them at home,” Knappett says. If we regularly cooked 12-14 courses of Michelin-starred food, it probably would.
Frog by Adam Handling
34-35 Southampton Street, WC2E 7HG
For a bit of a luxe dinner with your closest chums, you could do a lot worse than dining at Frog by Adam Handling’s exclusive private dining room. Known as ‘The Library’, the intimate area seats 12 people and comes complete with its own kitchen, offering you unbridled access into the ins and outs of the kitchen with your own personal chefs on hand to ensure you’re well fed. Joining the chefs are a crack team of waiting staff and sommeliers who will ensure that your every need is catered for. Well, your every need related to food, drink and outstanding service, that is.
20 Queen Street, W1J 5PP
Murano, another Michelin-starred restaurant to add to the list, is the only one to feature a retractable glass wall and on entrance and a huge window into the kitchen, meaning you can take the space for a (somewhat voyeuristic) private dining experience and watch its highly skilled chefs at work. It seats up to 12 guests.