It’s not everyday that you dine in the same spot that everyone from Rihanna to Bar Refaeli has frequented – but as we discover, in Mayfair’s Novikov, anything is possible
There are certain places that are visited when one wants to see and be seen, and Novikov, the dual cuisine restaurant found on Berkeley Street is undoubtedly one of them.
A mere pebble’s throw away from Nobu, many questioned Russian entrepreneur Arkady Novikov when he chose to open the Pan-Asian meets Italian venue back in 2012 – numerous restauranteurs avoided the space due to its vast size alone. But it proved a hit – and when I visit on a cloudy Thursday evening, it’s already teeming with guests before most of London has even finished working.
Split into two sections, Novikov offers diners both an Italian and Asian offering. I’m here for the latter – and arrive at the airport-esque entrance flanked by security guards before being swiftly lead to my table.
Despite its sleek interiors and undoubtedly extravagant feel, staff are immediately welcoming and make friendly chitchat as we settle in to our seats – a table so close to the venue’s open kitchen that we’re separated from the action only by glass.
This is one of the Asian restaurant’s most prominent features, along with its superb display of seafood and vegetables. Designed to evoke the feel of an authentic Asian market (thankfully, without the horrifically early 2am required start time) it’s from our table that we can eyeball the selection for ourselves – juicy lobsters, enormous crabs and a plentitude of exotic fish lay before us.
There’s no stuffiness that you could anticipate from Novikov’s notoriously high prices – it’s relaxed and buzzy, with staff weaving between guests like a well-coordinated relay team.
Our own waiter for the night helpfully offers to choose a selection of dishes to save us dithering over the rather enormous menu – our only instructions are to request for the show to stop once we’ve devoured enough. As Japanese is one of my favourite cuisines, I happily rise to the challenge.
Like a parade of beautifully decorated floats, the procession of sky-high priced dishes begins. First up is a selection of sumptuous sashimi – scallop and black truffle, along with a tray of ombre beetroot yellowtail. Both are fantastic, but the former especially so – if there was ever such a thing as flavour harmony, the combination of smooth scallop and rich black truffle would be it.
This is followed by a round of tuna sushi, complimented with vibrantly pink black cod dumplings, a dish Novikov is hailed for on social media. Served as a quartet of pink parcels, these prove another hit – salty, sweet and bursting with tangy flavour.
Another must-try for those watching their waistlines is the newly launched rice-free California Caviar, served wrapped in delicate cucumber to avoid high carbing. There’s something for everyone, and we’re tasting all of it.
The savoury feast ends with a gigantic king crab leg topped with wasabi cream. Whilst the wasabi doesn’t pack too much of a punch (rather, more of a feeble tap) the crab meat itself is superb – juicy, fresh and filling. So much so, that it takes the two of us around 15 minutes to work our way through it, but at £71.50 a plate, it’s worth making room.
Whilst dinner here is divine, dessert puts on a pretty excellent performance too. We finish with a slab of Nutella cheesecake – an enormous creation comprised of four layers. These resemble somewhat of a crossed-cut fossil, and our spoons glide through until an innocent mouthful turns into a rather empty plate. But Novikov is all about decadence – and if you’re going to sin, you might as well do it in style.
Make it happen
Where: 50A Berkeley St, Mayfair, London W1J 8HA
Bookings: Phone 020 7399 4330 or click here to book.