Jun 17, 2013

The Best Chef’s Tables In London

From Soho to Knightsbridge, marvel the delights of private dining at it’s most exciting. Compliments To The Chef? Tell Him Yourself …

Private dining is culinary exclusivity defined. There’s something very special about being able to take your guests behind a mysterious door of a busy, fashionable eatery and sit them in an intimate setting, away from the hubbub of the main restaurant. You can enjoy the atmosphere at your own pace and leisure, focusing solely on your guests, your party and the food before you. But why stop there? Exclusive dining can be pushed that little bit further, to an extra impressive degree. By hosting a meal at a chef’s table, you are treating your guests to an insight into the kitchen as well. Chef’s tables are private dining rooms that give you one-on-one access to the nerve centre of a restaurant, and to the conductor of your meal: the head chef. Having your own room at a restaurant is one thing, but to make it that little bit more extraordinary, why not get chummy with the chef too.

The following list reviews 8 of the most unique places to experience life in a top London kitchen whilst enjoying the food from your table. Conveniently reviewing these establishments in one succinct blog post, this list gives adventurous diners an insight into these distinctive bistros. Each one has it’s own touch of individuality. Pick one to start, and why not then make your way through the entire list in the coming months…

The Chef’s Table, Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley, Knightsbridge.

With a back-catalogue of culinary accomplishments behind him, such as a career working closely alongside Chef Albert Roux and Gordon Ramsey, Marcus Wareing decided in 2008 to go at it alone. He opened a double Michelin starred eponymously named restaurant at The Berkeley, Knightsbridge, to critical acclaim. The restaurant offers the multi-leveled experience of dining privately with its Pomerol Room as well as its chef’s table. The standout feature with this eatery is Wareing’s very particular involvement in the dining experience. He has designed his menu to perfection; every intricate detail of the food sublimely topped with an air of precision – from the woodland-inspired nettle and dandelion burrata, to the traditional treacle and custard dessert. To add to the exclusivity of this chef’s table, Wareing is sure to give his patrons the ultimate personal experience. He is not simply a chef to put his name on the door and rest on his laurels; Wareing is one of the few top chefs that will actually be in the kitchen when you experience his chef’s table. This private room is low-lit and intimate. The diner is the purveyor too, as he or she will sit at a table with a large windowed view of the intricacies of the kitchen. With nowhere to hide, take advantage of this voyeur-like experience – which, surely, is what being at a chef’s table is all about.

The Chef’s Room, Gauthier, Soho

Over in intimate Soho you’ll find Gauthier, the gloriously hip restaurant of chef Alexis Gauthier. Located in a tall regency townhouse on Romilly Street, it hosts several floors of trendy, excitable diners, there to enjoy all that modern French cuisine has to offer. The place is sleek and unique, with a style entirely of it’s own making. Gauthier himself is known for his Heston-esque innovation; the Times dubbed him “a green fingered vegetable magician”, thanks to the theme running through the current menu: “Vegtronic!” This is the concept that our emerald-digited head chef is pushing right now, and anyone that opts for this menu (which is designed to accentuate the best of meats, by complimenting them with sumptuous veg) will receive a copy of Gauthier’s accompanying book. The private dining experience here is exceptional. There’s The Games Room, with it’s vintage arcade machine, and The Hidden Room, with it’s Cluedo-esque demeanour. Most excitably perhaps is The Chef’s Room – situated at the heart of the restaurant, this chamber is only meant for up to 4 guests. It truly provides an air of privacy, whilst giving the diner a faultless insight into the workings of the restaurant and kitchen. The food is prepared within earshot, the walls are lined with wines, and the décor merges mahogany refinement with clerical accomplishment. The globes and wall-charts will make you wonder whether you are amidst a presidential campaign (the room is also used as the base for the staff to talk turkey with regard to the menus, when diners aren’t there), and the service is second to none.

The Covent Garden Room, Brigade, London Bridge.

The Covent Garden Room at Brigade takes an adventurous leap away from the norm of a chef’s table. Whilst many restaurants offer its patrons a more intimate experience when dining next to the kitchen, Brigade turns the concept on its head. The Covent Garden Room allows you to take up to 48 guests onto a chef’s table, allowing you to host a real party with the kitchen next door. One side of the room boasts ceiling high windows; there’s no dim-lit, romanticizing allowed at this chef’s table. It’s all about the hustle and bustle of the kitchen, giving an open-plan social feel to your event. If you so choose, the partition can be lowered, allowing your room to merge with the cook school kitchen. Brigade offers the option to take your event to the next level, also. If you’re really looking to muck in, it’s possible to arrange culinary themed group activities for your guests, before sitting down to a delicious dinner. You will eat fresh bread, canapés and shortbread, made my your own hand in the cook school kitchen, followed by a menu designed by Chef and founder Simon Boyle.

The Chef’s Office, Launceston Place, South Kensington.

There are so many unique ingredients that make up Launceston Place’s chef’s table (or chef’s “office” as it is known). Perfect for parties between 2 and 10, you and your guests will be seated in a den-like room, at a table placed before a large plasma screen. Lavishly decorated with a beautiful wood-paneled feature hearth, the room is cozy and quaint. But where’s the kitchen, you might wonder? One click of the remote control and the plasma will spring to life, giving you one of the most unique versions of a chef’s table in London. It’s all a bit James Bond, to be sat at a large oval table, before a big screen, with the kitchen staff at your service. Chef Tim Allen is often there to give you a tour of the kitchen, and occasionally invite you to participate in the cooking. This kitchen comes equipped with a Michelin star, an expert sommelier and the best market produce of the day, which will be whipped into a bespoke supper for the diners of the Chef’s Office.

The Chef’s Dining Room, Mews of Mayfair, Mayfair.

Claustrophobia at it’s most intriguing and elegant – the chef’s dining room at Mews of Mayfair is stunningly one of a kind. Hidden away on the top floor of the building, the room is ideal for dinners or canapé parties, and is decorated like no other. The walls are adorned from top to bottom with rustic, pale world maps, boasting an “Imperial Britain” theme. The ceiling is lined with gorgeous wooden beams and chandeliers. The room is decadent and classic, encapsulating its diners in true excessive decorum. The one glimpse the room allows you into another world is the strip of window that is cut out of one side of the room. Through the hanging copper woks you’ll see the kitchen staff, busy at work, rustling up dishes of grilled red bream with peppered squid, ruby grapefruit Gressingham duck breast and cider steeped apples and Stilton gnocchi with baked candied beetroot. Seriously delicious stuff.

The Chef’s Table, Benares, Mayfair.

Benares’ star continues to rise, with Chef Patron Atul Kochhar making a name for himself for his British-meets-Indian twist. Everyone enjoys a sumptuous curry dish – but the service and quality at Benares is extra special. Kochhar’s reputation is starting to precede him, with appearances on Masterchef, two Michelin stars and the honour of cooking for Prince Charles under his belt. First and foremost, it is his designing of food that he is renowned for – and what better reason to head to Benares’ chef’s table for a truly one-off evening. The chef’s table here overlooks the kitchen like a ship’s deck overlooking the ocean. Up to 6 lucky diners can see directly into the kitchen at this eatery. This really is the best view in the house, with a first-hand look at how Kochhar’s recipes have suffused the zests of his native India with that of the UK’s plush produce.

To check out this and the other private facilities on offer at Benares, follow the link.

Angler Chef’s View, South Place Hotel, The City.

Avengers at the ready! With its Purdey, Peel and Steed private rooms, the South Palace Hotel can be found in the heart of The City of London. This place is renowned partly for its contemporary newness, but also its stunning location, nestled amongst The Gherkin and Tower 42. The best view can be seem from the chef’s table room, on the seventh floor, as part of the Angler seafood restaurant. Here you can look one way to take in the majesty of London’s skyline, or turn the other and watch the kitchen staff through a glass window, like they are exotic fish in a large tank. Head Chef Tony Fleming has created a stunning tasting menu for you and up to 9 other guests, based on precisely what tickles your fancy. What’s more, this is a hotel – why not really treat yourself to a weekend away and book into one of the luxurious rooms for after your meal, to make the evening complete.

Check it out in more depth, here.

The Kitchen Library & The Chef’s Table, Corrigan’s, Mayfair

What’s great about Corrigan’s is its chef’s table is neither too involved nor too separated. There are two chef’s table rooms at this establishment. The Chef’s Library sees its guests sat on the cusp of the kitchen, with a personal view of the “pass”. This section of the kitchen sees all the dishes “pass through” for a final once over, en route to their tables. The library features a personal collection of chef Richard Corrigan’s books. The menu here is very traditional English – influenced by chef Corrigan’s upbringing (his mother’s freshly baked bread and his father’s wild game recipes) you’ll typically come across rich sauces, grouse pies, wild mushrooms, fois grois, lobster, wild garlic and suckling pig on the lineup. For an additional fee, a demonstration can be arranged in the kitchen for your private party. The chef’s table next door is perfect for a corporate function. The drama of the kitchen plays out behind a glass window at one end of the room, and a huge mirror at the other end gives the room an airy, glassy aura.

For further details, Corrigan’s in Mayfair.

This blog post was written by Andrew J. Bullock