Arkady Novikov is no shrinking violet. Head of a huge 50 restaurant empire throughout Moscow as well as one of Russia’s most successful businessmen with an organisation including Supermarkets, florists and even a 15 acre farm, as the website (http://www.novikovrestaurant.co.uk/ ) states, “he is the man with the midas touch.” So it’s no surprises that he has finally entered the London restaurant scene and with all his Russian rubles it can only be Mayfair for this king with not one but two restaurants, Asian and Italian and a basement Lounge bar. We tried the Asian establishment as a fitting entrée.
“The aroma of money and sexy charm floats through the air like a heavenly scent.” I think if I was to sum up my feelings on Novikov Asian dining, that would be it. However, this is the beginning of my review and I think you’d like a bit more than that to tempt you to try it out.
Upon entering Novikov you immediately feel like you are part of a secret club, where only the elite have a special gold and diamond encrusted card to enter. Or maybe it’s just an unspoken and very exclusive nod and a wink. Hospitality and a mass of staff seem to be one of Novikov’s secret weapons. Clearly, being handsome or beautiful is a prerequisite to working here too. The hostesses are all in pretty, flowery dresses and the waiters in black. Very smart but not pretentious. Here you are made to feel comfortable and part of the ‘family’. Our waiter, Tiano, fresh back from Portugal was charming, smart, knew his menu well and very cute ta-boot! The restaurant has a warm, Asian style feel to it, without feeling like a chop house. The glassed in open kitchen, gives you the voyerism without the noise fronted by a beautiful display of vegetables, fish and shellfish, for you to choose your own dinner for the evening and ask for it to be cooked ‘how you like it’. Another winning touch for anyone wishing to dine here, you can certainly do it well.
The menu was a little long and confusing, It seemed that whatever we ordered, though it was all quite delightful came in small portions. Not quite amuse-bouche but neither feast nor filling. Should we forgive Novikov this one little foible? If you have a big fat wallet then maybe…
We ate a ‘New Style Sashimi’ of sea bass, sliced into the thinnest slivers and soaked in a Yuzu vinaigrette, beautifully presented and so moreish we probably could’ve had another plate. This is one of those dishes you never forget and should you be passing by, worth popping in for. For a more traditional Sashimi we ate Akame, a Barramundi fish in Australia and a kind of tuna style if you’re looking for a comparison, albeit a flimsy one and not worthy of this fish. It was so buttery and soft, it virtually melted on your tongue, dancing it’s way down to your stomach like a nimble ballerina.
The highlight of my evening was the Prawn tempura and Avocado Maki roll, I was speechless to even describe the preposterous deliciousness of this morsel of food at the time. How genius, they clearly knew I was coming, Prawn Tempura in a roll..what can I say…bang on the money and some. We also had the most gorgeous little foie gras and beef fried dim sum, dribbling foie gras juice down our chins, my colleague, Christina, just managed to squeeze out an ‘oh wow’.
The desserts were OK, slightly lost in translation but still worth a look in. The sorbet selection is probably the best of them all.
If a suitor should bring you to Novikov consider it a sign, as I remarked to my colleague, “If you were looking to get your leg over…well…you’ve come to the right place.” But we don’t mean this in the trashy sense, oh no, Novikov is far from that. The food is gorgeous, exciting, immerses you in a sea of passion, more than any oyster could ever do. It is an aphrodisiac and all you can say is, “Yes, yes, yes!” When Harry met Sally eat your heart out.
Novikov exudes sexiness without being tardy or cheap. You know you have arrived when you enter this stylish establishment. Yes the price tag is not for the faint hearted but well, that’s the point isn’t it. Let’s hope Novikov can remain this attractive and charming for a long while yet without the need for Botox.
Novikov, 50a Berkeley Street, Mayfair, London W1J 8HA
Tel: 020 7399 4330