London's 5 Toughest Tables to Reserve

By Malika Dalamal  |  July 29, 2014

Londoners have gone on holiday, leaving the city nice and quiet for those of us staying behind. Take advantage of the empty streets — and empty restaurants seats — by eating at these five restaurants that are usually booked solid. But be quick — while the locals might have left, there are hordes of tourists around ready to snap up tables at the most popular spots.

Chiltern Firehouse 
You've read about it, heard about it and seen the pictures — but have you managed to get a table at this Marylebone celebrity hangout set in a beautiful Grade II-listed Victorian-Gothic fire brigade building? Probably not. Try your luck at the notorious reservations line this summer while their regulars are sunning themselves in Ibiza, and sample the ingredient-driven cooking with modern techniques by chef Nuno Mendes (formerly of Viajante) for yourself. 
1 Chiltern St., W1U 7PA; 020 7073 7676

La Petite Maison
If you can't make it to the French Riviera this summer, trick yourself into thinking you're there on holiday at this Mayfair French restaurant where the sensational food is prepared with the same fresh produce as its sister outpost in Nice. Finding a table while its main clientele are away can be slightly easier. 
54 Brook's Mews, W1K 4EG; 020 7495 4774

Berners Tavern
Jason Atherton's all-day restaurant is set in a supremely glamorous room in Fitzrovia's London Edition Hotel. Grand ceilings, walls graced with portraits, chandeliers and elegant lighting provide the backdrop to Atherton's menu of Modern British fare.
10 Berners St., W1T 3LF; 020 7908 7979

River Cafe
The riverside terrace (pictured) at this Italian hot spot set in a former warehouse in Hammersmith is one of the most serene spots in London. The daily changing menu of contemporary Italian dishes prepared using seasonal ingredients is still faultless after over 25 years — and the vibe remains child-friendly and casual. Get in before all the regulars return.
Rainville Rd., W6 9HA; 020 7386 4200

The hype surrounding Ollie Dabbous's 2012 opening has not entirely died down, and while the affordable Modern European tasting menu is still drawing crowds, a section of the restaurant is kept for walk-ins, so try your luck at lunchtime during the week this summer. You can also head downstairs to Oskar's Bar — the no-reservations basement space taking bar snacks (steak sandwich, boneless chicken wings) to the next level.
39 Whitfield St., WIT 2SF; 020 7323 1544