lisboeta counter dining
Image: Milo Brown

The best counter dining spots in London

11 Sep 2023 | |By Annie Lewis

Oversee the action in the kitchen from the best seat in the house

A perfect place to oversee the goings on in the restaurant, connect with others or have a moment all to yourself (without being seated between hand-holding, eye-gazing lovers or loud celebrations for a birthday party), counter dining is increasingly becoming a go-to option for foodies in London – and several restaurants host prime spots where you can watch all the action unfold. From eateries serving Cantonese dumplings to bars inspired by the Portuguese culinary haven of Lisbon, here are the best counter dining spots in London to pull up a stool at. 

Poon’s Wontoneria at Carousel, Fitzrovia

If you’re constantly on the hunt for new cuisines to sample, Carousel on Charlotte Street is worth a visit. With an ever-changing roster of residencies and culinary traditions, ranging from Argentinian to Milanese, as well as playing host to award-winning chefs such as the Michelin-starred Niklas Ekstedt, it may be hard to keep up with what’s going on but it’s definitely worth booking a table and seeing what is currently on offer. Carousel is also one of the best spots in the capital for counter dining, with its No.23 space housing a 16-seater ‘launch pad’ for new concepts, pop-ups and collaborations. 

In residence until October 2023 is Poon’s Wontoneria, the Cantonese-inspired dumpling bar first introduced to London by Bill and Cecilia Poon in the 1970s. Three decades later, their daughter Amy has revived the family business, launching Poon’s Wontoneria with a strictly limited series of four pop-ups per year. These fresh, flavourful, moreish parcels of perfection are filled with pork, chicken, prawn or vegetables and served on their own or as part of a noodle bowl. Dinner service sees the menu transformed with the help of sides and extras – think Poona Coladas or Marteeny cocktails alongside dumplings and small plates. 

19-23 Charlotte Street, W1T 1RW, visit

Lisboeta, Fitzrovia

Also on Charlotte Street is Nuno Mendes’ love letter to the city of Lisbon, focusing on Portuguese produce and traditional cooking techniques. Perfect for counter dining, the fare centres around an array of small plates – known in Portuguese as ‘petiscos’ – with a dedicated lunch menu at the counter offering the Lisboeta experience for those on a deadline. If you’re thinking of solo dining here, you won’t be alone as the restaurant is designed to create an intimate atmosphere, with smaller groups and solo diners downstairs at the counter and larger parties upstairs. Tuck into summer favourites include squid à bulhão pato on toast, Ibérico pork plumas with red pepper and baby gem, and tomato salad with orange and coriander. 

30 Charlotte Street, W1T 2NG, visit

Cédric Grolet at The Berkeley, Knightsbridge

Boasting views towards leafy Hyde Park, Cédric Grolet – one of the world’s best pastry chefs – found the perfect spot to open his first patisserie outside of France at the five-star Berkeley hotel last year. The chef’s world-renowned creations are available to takeaway, featuring his popular trompe-l'œil fruit and flower cakes, signature viennoiserie (including those viral croissants), cookies, cakes and standout patisseries, all freshly made each morning with a ‘once they are gone, they are gone’ policy.

For those who want more than a takeaway experience, Cédric Grolet and The Berkeley have created a unique dining moment showcasing pastry masterpieces that evolve with the seasons. Within the lab-like patisserie sits the immersive chef’s counter, flanked by two sets of four seats. Guests are treated to a menu of signature tastings – six sweet and two savoury – and champagne, and are wowed as Grolet’s team of pastry chefs make his creations before their eyes. Croissants and champagne – what more could you want?

The Berkeley, Wilton Place, SW1X 7RL, visit

L'Atelier Robuchon, Mayfair

Opening its doors on 15 September, the Joël Robuchon group is relaunching its Mayfair restaurant as L’Atelier Robuchon London after it closed in 2019​​ following the famed French chef's death the year before​​. On the menu, the L’Atelier will celebrate legendary Robuchon classics overseen by executive chef Andrea Cofini, from the much-revered Purée de Pomme de Terre (often described as the best mashed potatoes in the world thanks to the 2:1 potato to butter ratio) to sea bream carpaccio, simply dressed with lemon and chive. 

Guests will be welcomed into the grand elegance of L’Atelier with its newly created bar area at the entrance, which leads into the open restaurant area, seating 74 diners. To the left is a sweeping marble countertop which puts the chefs centre stage, a signature feature of all the original Joël Robuchon restaurants where the open kitchen format was pioneered. Soft scarlet seating and subtle warm lighting invites diners to enjoy L’Atelier Robuchon day and night, from long lunches to celebratory dinners. 

6 Clarges Street, W1J 8AE, visit

Counter 71, Shoreditch

Serving only 16 guests per night from a raised emerald marble countertop, Counter 71 is Joe Laker’s culinary ode to the British Isles, offering a tasting menu that depicts the minimalist style he has honed throughout his career. Intricate in flavour yet adhering to a ‘fewer-ingredient’ philosophy, Laker’s multi-course menu will showcase the British seasons while also utilising homegrown citrus fruits and chillies, all served in an intimate atmosphere where chefs serve diners at the counter. Menus are constantly evolving, but sample dishes include langoustine broth and pickled carrot, English muffin with smoked egg and truffle, and cod, oyster and lovage. 

71 Nile Street, N1 7RD, visit

Barrica, Fitzrovia

Fitzrovia's answer to Spanish conviviality, Barrica is an authentic tapas bar that transports you from the bustle of the West End to the idyllic streets of Spain. Perfect for a solo diner or small group, you’ll feel at home at the counter bar or under the beautiful wisteria-draped ceiling window. Expect a menu filled with delicious, seasonal ingredients and influenced by many of the great gastronomic regions of Spain, including dishes of deep-fried cauliflower, with garlic and chilli emulsion, classic tortilla with caramelised onions and confit potatoes, as well as cuttlefish black ink rice with aioli and jamón and oloroso croquettes. 

62 Goodge Street, W1T 4NE, visit

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