i do the same with kitchens, especially in diners and smaller take outs. you get to see how clean the place is, and who's doing the cooking, which isn't always a good thing. plus i try to analyze technique.
i don't mind being seated near a kitchen in a nicer place for these same reasons.
but i'm also bad at trying to catch glimpses of the dishes on other tables as we are being escorted thru a restaurant to our table. if you ask for a booth in the back (in order to trap our son inside the booth by sitting on the outside ends), you get to peek at a lot of dishes.
i'm especially bad on korean restaurants. the food on some tables is so strange looking that i'm compelled to ask the waitress what it is, and usually if i could have it.
lol, a few times the waitress responded that she didn't know the word for it in american, and that i didn't want it. when i persisted, she called over another waitress to explain in slightly less broken english that i would not like it.
one of these days i'm going back with a korean co-worker/friend and i'm gonna get some, whatever it was.