Watching a chef deftly run a busy kitchen, it hits even the most accomplished at-home gourmet: Wow, I am nowhere near that good. The chef’s table is the foodie’s version of sitting courtside. Here are a trio of places we recommend grabbing an up-close seat.
Crop } seats eight reservations recommended At a bar-style countertop, diners can watch as their food is cooking on open burners and plated in front of them. “You couldn’t be closer to the action,” says chef Steve Schimoler. “It’s great theater.” In addition to the show, Crop treats countertop diners to complimentary small tastes including Cropcicles — little ice pops in flavors such as strawberry and hibiscus, and mojito and pineapple basil. 1400 W. Sixth St., Cleveland, (216) 696-2767
Momocho } seats two reservations recommended
Walk up the wooden staircase at this mod-Mex eatery and you’ll find a tiny two-seater sharing a granite countertop with the kitchen. You may get a chance to sample sauces or other bite-size portions of the food being prepared. “You’re 24 inches away from all the action,” says chef Eric Williams. “You see everything, and you feel the heat.” 1835 Fulton Road, Cleveland, (216) 694-2122
Table 45 } seats six to eight reservations required This roomy table is located inside the kitchen. Separated from the action by a plate-glass window, diners can chat with the kitchen via a microphone in the ceiling. “It’s a great experience for me,” says chef Rick Argoso. “I get to interact with guests and expand their palate by introducing them to new cuisines.” For $80 per person plus a $100 service charge, diners can opt for the traditional chef’s table and enjoy a six-course meal suited to their tastes. 9801 Carnegie Ave., Cleveland, (216) 707-4045