Enough of living a solitary life – restaurants are back and it’s great seeing friends and family again. As we inch a little closer to loved ones and will soon stop recoiling from strangers, now is the time to consider booking a counter restaurant for a few weeks’ time. That sense of belonging and community makes them extra appealing and the experience all the more memorable.
Crocker's Chef's Table
The personable chef understands that guests sit at a counter to interact with those behind it – and he does just that and clearly enjoys it. 15 seats are set around a wooden-topped counter and the seasonal menus are creative and eye-catching.
Covent Garden, London
The zinc-topped counter, which makes up this hidden away gem in Neal’s Yard, seats 24. It’s cosy and fun – and you won’t want to leave. The former Barbary Coast provides the inspiration so sit and watch all the grilling over coals and the baking in the clay oven.
Tapas and counters go together like Spain and sunshine. There’s always a great atmosphere at this L-shaped counter, with all the staff eager to please and knowledgeable. Check out the blackboard for the daily specials.
London Fields, London
This must surely rank as one of the most handsome counters around; it seats 18 in a horseshoe shape and is housed in an ersatz-industrial room. Chef Andy Beynon and his colleagues are on view in the kitchen as they prepare a surprise menu of around 10 courses. A recipient of a Michelin Star in 2021.
8 offers an all-round immersive experience with an L-shaped counter seating 8 couples, atmospheric lighting, a TV screen and dishes themed around the chef’s career and the number 8. It’s moody, modern and intimate and well-choreographed by the chef himself in an engaging and theatrical but self-deprecating way.
This is another horseshoe-shaped counter, with seating for 21. It was once a garage and is tucked away in the hip area of North Laine. The Italian menu offers a good mix of keenly priced homemade pasta and small plates. There’s another branch in Hove, actually; and a new one in London.
Chef owner Kaoru Nakamura has one of the smallest restaurants in the Michelin Guide – with seating at an L-shaped counter for just 7. Here in the suburbs of Leeds, he offers an omakase menu fashioned from the day’s prime ingredients. Everything about this restaurant is sweet and genuine.
The long counter is where to sit if you want a bit of action with your meal. Watch the chefs in front of you as they prepare the tapas-style dishes, several of which are cooked over apple or pear wood for that extra smoky flavour.
There are plenty of tables in this traditional Dublin pub, but the best seats are at the counter where you can watch the chefs prepare flavoursome dishes using good quality ingredients. It’s a cute and well-run place.
The horseshoe shaped bar is the centrepiece of this city centre restaurant – and is where you should sit if you want to feel like a local. The kitchen uses only the best Scottish seafood in its uncomplicated, classic dishes.
This year, the Michelin Guide is published in a digital format only, both on our website (UK and Republic of Ireland) and via the iOS app.
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