London's restaurant scene is booming, but it's not often you get to see the cogs turning behind the scenes. With these chef's tables you can get up-close-and-personal with the kitchen, see the chefs at work and watch as your dinner gets plated up before your very eyes.
At any one of these restaurants you're in for a memorable evening, from posh pub grub at Jesse Dunford Wood's Parlour or James Knappett's Michelin-starred space hidden behind Bubbledogs on Charlotte Street.
And – despite how it might seem on Netflix's Chef's Table – it's not always about splashing the cash or pushing the boundaries of gastronomy.
Go for more casual vibes at Westerns Laundry's private table where you can snaffle up banging British seafood from the daily changing menu or get a taste of Italy at Artusi, a relaxed, no-fuss dining space in Peckham, south east London.
Wright Brothers Soho
13 Kingly Street, W1B 5PW
Photo by Toby Keane
Ever wondered what it feels like to be a lobster? Now you can find out thanks to oyster specialist Wright Brothers' Lobster Cage at its Soho site – except this 'cage' involves a private table surrounded by an open kitchen rather than the, er, sea, and it's a lot harder to get a reservation. And even if oysters aren't your bag, you'll find plenty on the special menus to tempt and tantalise, from fresh fish to chargrilled hanger steak.
Hélène Darroze at the Connaught
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. Tucked away beneath the restaurant's famous kitchens, the cellars are home to more than 9,000 vintage bottles of top-notch wine, so you shouldn't have any trouble finding something to go with the two Michelin-starred food. We'll drink to that...
34 Drayton Park, N5 1PB
Nope, it's not a place to take your washing – Westerns Laundry is in fact a second restaurant from the founders of the much-loved Primeur. Not bad going for a building that used to be a laundrette, especially when you check out the chef's table. Framed by large Victorian windows, it's a damned good place to hoover up dishes like pork belly with cabbage and apple while having the wine list explained to you by an expert.
Lennox Gardens Mews, SW3 2JH
Photo by Patricia Niven
If you're a sushi and sashimi fan, book yourself into Dinings SW3's chef's table – essentially a counter that's situated right in front of the kitchen – and you'll be in the prime position to appreciate all of that precise slicing and dicing as it happens. You'll also be in the perfect spot to nab all the best dishes as soon as they've been made. How incredibly convenient.
161 Bellenden Road, SE15 4DH
If you're expecting drama and high-concept design, you won't find it at Peckham's Artusi, where the small, sparse space – and the food – speak of no-nonsense dining. Which isn't to say the cooking lacks artistry or theatre – book the kitchen table, where up to 18 can watch Artusi's bold, modern Italian food being made.
16 Winchester Walk, SE1 9AQ
Photo by Piotr Kowalczyk
The 16-seater Cook's Room at Hawksmoor's latest 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 4QQ
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.
108 Marylebone Lane, W1U 2QE
Marylebone Brasserie 108's menu doesn’t restrict itself to one national cuisine – instead it takes influence from all over Europe and throws in some British favourites, with lobster tortellini, beef wellington and bakewell tart all on its tasting menu. The best way to enjoy it is at the chef's table, where head chef Russell Ford is on hand to talk you through the menu and tell you about the ingredients in, and thinking behind, each dish.
5 Regent Street, NW10 5LG
It's not just Michelin-star chefs who get to show off – just ask Jesse Dunford Wood, who can be found serving up posh pub grub at the chef's table at his restaurant, Parlour. Guests can watch him prepare signature dishes, including cow pie and chicken kyiv.
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 with the for a (somewhat voyeuristic) private dining experience and watch its highly skilled chefs at work. It seats up to 12 guests.