Eating in a booth is great. It’s the 4x4 of restaurant seating. Comfy, exclusive, sociable - booths have got it all. They’re kind of like your own private party with sofa seats and the freedom to kick someone under the table if they eat the last croquette. Not every restaurant has these palatial arse thrones though. But the ones in this guide do. Here’s where to go when you want to sit in a big booth.
The listed building in which QCH sits has been a restaurant since 1869. That means people in sombre suits and bouffant dresses have been piling into these four or six person booths, and slicing through venison, and crunching confit potatoes for, like, 150 years. It’s obviously had a scrub since then, but this classic British spot in Clerkenwell is home to London’s only genuine blue plaque booth contenders.
Bob Bob Ricard is the restaurant equivalent of a peacock that just won Euromillions and is en route to the diamond department at Harrods. This OTT Soho restaurant is loud, proud, and it’s exactly where you want to go for a blowout booth dinner. The food is a mixture of British, French, and Russian. So basically get comfortable, press that champagne button, and get yourself some caviar.
There are many types of booth: gold ones, wooden ones, two person ones, and ten person ones, but the ones at The Fryer’s Delight in Bloomsbury are surely London’s most nostalgic. These luminous red formica booths, with a cup of tea on them, and a plate of classic (though not perfect) fish and chips is a scene straight from the fictional 1980s childhood you’ve often daydreamed about. You can sit in them alone, with a friend, or opposite a local. Just be sure to be piling your chips into a butty.
Although there are only two booths available at Theo’s in Camberwell, they are booths worth fighting for. Not literally of course. But ask the kitchen if you can borrow a spoonful of pomodoro, throw some on yourself, channel that B at Drama GCSE, and someone might just take pity and let you have one. Then you just need to find three or five friends to eat killer Neapolitan pizza and drink negronis with you. That shouldn’t be too hard.
Bob Bob Cité is the younger, chromier, sibling to Bob Bob Ricard. While their aesthetics may differ slightly - Bob Bob Cité looks like trading floor of Gordon Gekko’s office on the International Space Station - their atmosphere does not. It’s all press for champagne, lobster mac and cheese, and truffle covered chips here. Is any of this necessary? No. Do you need to experience it? Absolutely.
Sitting on the inside of a booth at dinner is not unlike tripping (not the falling over kind). You’re never entirely sure of how to escape and you’re never entirely sure whether that monkey holding a lamp above you is real. That’s what it’s like at Brigadiers anyway. It’s an Indian barbecue restaurant in the City that’s sole purpose is for you to have a good time. With lamb chops, with espresso martinis, and with friends.
Before tonight, the last time you dropped char siu pork on velour you were welling up to First Dates wearing a tracksuit you’ve had since you were 14. Now you’re upstairs at a classy Chinese restaurant in the City, sitting in a red velour booth, painting plum sauce onto your pancake with a calligraphy brush. Is this a deleted scene from Kill Bill? No. This is just dinner at Kym’s.
There’s lots to be said for a single person dominating an entire booth. It’s a powerful image. One that’s completely undermined by slopping a glorious double cheeseburger all over your chin, washed down with a pint of lager. This is often the scene in Beer + Burger in Dalston, which is your less traditional booth venue. These are chipboard, in-and-out type booths. Ones that are made for pre or post pub visits, and they’re completely perfect for that.
Sharing large hunks of meat is something that mankind has done since the beginning of time. Whether they did this sitting in a plush underground booth in what is now Soho is up for debate, and it’s one that you can briefly touch on whilst digging into goat carnitas and cheeseburger tacos at Temper Soho. This meat mad smoky restaurant is packed with booths. Even better, it serves food that’s made for sharing.
If your last association with a train booth was an Interrail journey from Krakow to Budapest that involved your shoulder and a droopy-headed man who abstained from deodorant, let us tell you this: things can get better. Bombay Bustle is a train carriage like Indian restaurant in Mayfair, and it’s just right when you’re looking for a classy and quiet booth set-up involving biryani and dosa.
There’s really only one reason to go to the Holborn Dining Room, and that’s to eat pie. Pork pies, comté pies, curry pies - all the bloody pies. You can’t do this alone though, and, conveniently, this grand dining room is full of red leather-clad booths that are made for big groups looking to fill up on all things pastry. Don’t forget to get a sausage roll on your way out as well.
If you’re looking for a family-friendly booth situation, then Lemonia in Primrose Hill should be close to the top of your list. It’s a classic north London establishment that’s been feeding friends and family homely Greek food for what’s coming up to half a century. The booths in this always bustling restaurant have less of a VIP area feel about them, but you can still pop bottles of ouzo and scoff souvlaki with your grandparents if you want to.
Setting up shop in a booth and sinking a bottle of red that has a fuller body than you after a 400g rib-eye steak is, undeniably, a power move. Especially if you pack that in before 8pm at Hawksmoor Spitalfields. You don’t want to peak early at the original outpost for these steak specialists. The reason: there’s more eating and drinking to be done. From their full fat old fashioneds to their Big Matt burger downstairs.