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Behind The Scenes: The Best Chefs' Tables in London

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Often considered to be the best in the house, a seat at the chefs' table allows for both an exclusive and inclusive look at a restaurant ‘behind the scenes’. You could be in a private dining room observing the kitchen, or perched around a counter watching the chefs hard at work; whatever the experience, it is personal, educational and often interactive, and readily available at a number of world-renowned London restaurants. Here Beatrice Squires discovers some of the best chef's tables to book in the capital.

Dining

THE LOBSTER CAGE, WRIGHT BROS.

Since the Wright Brothers opened the original outpost in Southwark’s famous Borough Market, brothers-in-law Ben and Robin now have five restaurants across London. Nestled in a corner of the lively Kingly Court off Carnaby Street, Wright Brothers’ Soho has a private dining room that will linger in your memory. ‘The Lobster Cage’ is a large, adaptable structure fashioned from industrial materials. Set within the open kitchen; expect a somewhat confusing view of the chefs preparing your ‘fellow’ crustaceans for eating. Choose from set and sharing menus featuring predominantly fish dishes including crab and avocado mousse with Bloody Mary sauce, as well as generous shellfish platters and, of course, those famous oysters. A mini oyster masterclass can be booked on request.

thewrightbrothers.co.uk

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CITY SOCIAL

When lunch or dinner out promises not just a sneak peek into the kitchen but also panoramic views over the City of London, the only problem will be grappling with where to look. At Jason Atherton’s Art Deco-inspired, Michelin-starred City Social on the 24th floor of Tower 42, take a seat at the intimate table located next to floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the City and you will literally feel like you are in the clouds. As if this isn’t heavenly enough, executive chef Paul Walsh’s modern British menu will elevate your senses even further. Choose from one of the set menus with dishes such as pig’s trotter and ham hock with crispy Lancashire black pudding, apple and Madeira. The wine list is also difficult to beat, with an extensive range of international varieties.

jasonatherton.co.uk

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CORRIGAN’S KITCHEN LIBRARY

Since launching his eponymous restaurant in 2008, acclaimed Irish chef Richard Corrigan has gone on to win many awards for his Irish-British cuisine. Inspired by his rural upbringing, the menu reflects his humble roots but with a luxurious, stylish focus. It’s not often that one has the opportunity to eat out while surrounded by books, but at Corrigan’s Mayfair the Kitchen Library enables you to do just that. An intimate circular booth for up to six guests looks on to Corrigan’s personal library, as well as the kitchen, of course. As long as the minimum spend of £400 is adhered to, guests have mostly free choice over the menu. Onion ravioli with marjoram, cured Ibérico ham and grated duck liver, and roast squab pigeon with poached apricot, green beans and duck liver vinaigrette are some sample dishes.

corrigansmayfair.co.uk

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KITCHEN TABLE

Head chef James Knappett’s Kitchen Table is literally just that. Tucked away behind Bubbledogs restaurant in Fitzrovia, with 20 seats around a steel bar that surrounds the open kitchen, you couldn’t get any closer if you tried. The daily changing 12-14-course tasting menu of contemporary European dishes reflects Knappett’s past stints at world-famous establishments such as Noma (Copenhagen) and Per Se (New York), with a focus on the very best British seasonal ingredients. His passion for foraging is also evident, as he sources many of the ingredients himself. Examples include ‘Beetroot’ – beetroot, fennel and garlic scapes (the flower bud of the garlic plant); ‘Beef’ – beef, dead nettle and carrot; and ‘Hay’ – hay, strawberry, malt and sweet cicely. What’s more, Knappett and his team will take guests through each and every course they serve.

kitchentablelondon.co.uk

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MURANO

Chef-patron Angela Hartnett’s Murano was a whirlwind success almost as soon as it opened; within a mere four months, it received a coveted Michelin star. The food at Murano is modern Italian, inspired by Hartnett’s upbringing watching her Italian relatives at work in the kitchen. The private dining room for 12 feels relaxed, with a contemporary interior. Guests can choose from a selection of set menus (think spring vegetable tortellini, peas, broad beans, rove de garrigues), but for a more interactive experience, the team will create a tasting menu with matching wines. As for the hard stuff, the wine list is particularly notable, as the majority have been sourced from biodynamic and organic producers. Naturally, Italian wines are the focus, but there’s also an emphasis on French regions and New World wines.

muranolondon.com

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MARCUS AT THE BERKELEY

With a supreme Knightsbridge address, an illustrious history and an ultra-glamorous Art Deco interior, The Berkeley hotel is a destination in itself. That it is also home to Marcus Wareing’s eponymous restaurant is certainly apt. Marcus at The Berkeley holds an impressive two Michelin stars, awarded for Wareing’s impeccable modern British menu. For the 10 diners at the large oblong chef’s table, there are front-row seats right onto a wide portion of the kitchen, creating an adrenaline-fuelled atmosphere. The head wine sommelier can take you through the list of world wines, each to match the five-course tasting menu of exquisite dishes: octopus with chilli, lime and English wasabi, and peaches and cream, are just two examples.

marcusrestaurant.com

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