Having sat at the top of the glamour food chain since the 1990’s, the legendary and almost untouchable celebrity haunts Zuma and Nobu appear to have a genuine challenger for the attentions of Hollywood superstars and reality TV wannabes alike. Not dissimilar to when a certain Mr Abramovich appeared from a land far away and shook up the footballing establishment, fellow wealthy Russian Arkady Novikov has also looked to London to spread his vast wings, albeit in the restaurant industry.
Novikov Restaurant & Bar is the first restaurant outside Russia for the 50 strong restaurant group and with its Mayfair location, it’s certainly aiming high. The venue is divided into two restaurants, one specialising in Asian food and the other classic Italian. Head downstairs and you will also find a standalone Lounge Bar serving up a snazzy cocktail menu to the beat of live music and DJs. Following a couple visits to the bar just months after its launch, it’s clear that Novikov has made an impression on London’s restaurant scene. Every last seat in the restaurants are taken and every inch of the bar is filled with an international jet-set crowd, whilst the band of paparazzi outside confirms the presence of a regular celebrity clientele.
So what about the food? A visit to the Asian restaurant showed that there is some substance to the style, although the old guard who built their reputations on the quality of their cuisine needn’t worry just yet. Overseen by Head Chef Jeff Tyler, latterly of the Mandarin Oriental Marrakech, the menu draws on inspiration from the cuisine of China and Japan.
A key focus of the restaurant is the fresh seafood bar, where customers can pick the actual fish or crustacea they want and have it cooked to their taste. Prices are ominously omitted here, so don’t be surprised to be charged £22 for a grilled skewer of three (admittedly plump) prawns or £37 for Wasabi Gratinated King Crab Leg. Tasty selections of grilled meats are more sensibly priced and the sushi is also expertly executed. However, some of the dishes just feel a little heavy handed, with sauces and seasonings in particular proving to be overpowering. The King Crab, for example, is disappointingly ruined by being dressed in a rich and spicy sauce that completely overwhelms the delicacy of the crab.
Of course, ultimately this critique is pretty redundant, because Novikov isn’t so much about the food as it is a lifestyle statement, and as long as the beautiful faces keep coming, the crowds will follow.
Cuisine Type: Pan-Asian
Dinner for two (excluding drinks): £150
Asian Restaurant @ Novikov
50A Berkeley Street
London W1J 8HA
Tel: 020 7399 4330