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London's Best Counter Restaurants

As seasoned drinkers we love to sit at the bar and watch our cocktails being made. But when it comes to restaurants the drama is even better.

Eating at the counter comes with a few unspoken rules, like only trying to speak to chefs when they've engaged with you and pretending you don't notice anything past your own dish if things go wrong backstage. But most crucially, eating at the counter is for singles and twos - it's impossible to have a nice meal for everyone when you're lined up and constantly leaning back and forth trying to catch eyes. 

But with that acknowledged, there's no better placed to enjoy food at its finest. Here's our pick of London's best counters. 

Kricket, Soho

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With its super sexy design, including pink leather and brooze metal stools surronding the open kitchen, this restaurant is sleek, modern and welcoming. Watch the chefs pump out innovative twists on traditional Indian cuisine, which are a million miles away from your typical curry takeaway (fresh, flavoursome and a lamb dish which effortlessly dissolves in the mouth) as well as surprisingly delicious cocktails to compliment all that spice and texture. Grab a stool, and over-order.  

Social Wine + Tapas

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With a large restaurant space over two floors, Social Wine & Tapas has a multitude of seating options but one of the best spots is around the small counter watching the busy chefs work the grill. 

Barrafina

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Across all their sites the only spot to sit is at the bar - which means you're best of to come in twos and marvel at the opulent food being prepared in front of you. It makes for some serious food envy and over-ordering but then it's all so damn delicious an extra dish or two is understandable. 

Wright Brothers

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Seafood at the bar feels authentic, from traditional Spanish oyster bars with buckets beneath your feet for shells right up to London's Wright Brothers, be it their Borough site, Soho, Spitalfields or South Kensington. Order mussels, oysters, prosecco and porter and tuck in. 

Electric Diner

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Those large red booths are great for groups but if you're dining alone or as a couple it's far better at the counter here, watching food fly out and chefs exchange in playful banter. For couples it's far more intimate perched beside one another than lunging across the table as well. 

José

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To be fair, you're lucky to get any seat in this tiny Bermondsey bar but if you do manage to grab a spot at the counter you will be privaledged to watch giant legs of cured meat sliced up, cheese being plated, wine flowing freely and sherry being carefully measured out.

Palomar 

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The food here is insanely good, and there's no better spot to eat it than watching the bustling kitchen prepare it. You can't book, unless you're planning to eat as soon as the doors open, but whatever wait is imposed will be well worth it for a chance to watch these chefs work and sample the delicious plates. Who knows, you may even pick up a recipe or two. 

Kiln

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The long steel counter at Kiln is the only thing seperating you from thai barbeque goodness and as Time Out aptly described "There’s action and cheffery and drama at every swivel of your stool." 

Kitchen Table 

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Tucked behind Bubble Dogs, Kitchen Table is a 19-seat Michelin-star restaurant where everyone sits at the counter. The idea is to encourage interaction between the chefs and diners and as there's so few of you they can really take care of you while creating those award-winning dishes. 

Riding House Cafe

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Riding House Cafe offers a plethora of seating options, from its communal table to individual spots but its the buzzing bar where you want to eat, watching as cocktails, coffee and juices are churned out. Atmosphere like this is electric and can add fun to any evening. 

Terroirs Wine Bar

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With super tasty dishes to accompany the natural wines, Terroir is all about the simple, delicious dishes and bottles. Sit at the counter for expert wine advice right to hand as well as an inside look into what to eat and drink. 

Yashin

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Yashin is about the only sushi counter where the chefs aren't behind glass and a multitude of fresh sashimi. Here they ask you refrain from dunking your sushi in loads of soy sauce and appricate their carefully constructed flavour pairings. 

The Ivy 

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Grace Dent put it best when she wrote "Perch on a plush velvet chair, which conveniently swivels so you can spot the Beckhams being ushered in." Indeed you may get lucky with celebrity sightings at this famous West End restaurant, but most likely you'll end up with a fabulous meal and affable service. 

Blanchette

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This charming French bistro is all about tasty small dishes to be shared with friends, and no where is better to experience this than perched around their counter, nibbling at croque monsieurs, crispy frog’s legs, charcuterie and cheese.

Clove Club

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The worst kept secret about the amazing Clove Club is that you can pop in and enjoy their food without always sitting down for the fuill tasting menu. Sit at the bar and order cocktails or wine as sommeliers bustle in from the dining room and waiters bring you dishes which would normally set you back a good few hundred pounds as part of the tasting menu.