Novikov is the swanky Mayfair restaurant from Arkady Novikov - arguably the hottest man in the restaurant industry right now.
The Russian restaurateur owns a staggering 50 restaurants in and around Moscow and four in the capital: Brompton Brasserie, Rififi, Rextail and the flagship Novikov- aka one one of the hottest places to gather for dinner and drinks in Mayfair.
Situated on monied Berkeley Street, the 540 seater Novikov consists of three restaurants in one. Push through the revolving glass doors and you’ll find an Asian restaurant on the left with an open kitchen, that's home to an army of chefs frantically preparing sushi, sashimi and other Asian specialties. The glamorous lounge bar lies downstairs while straight ahead is the cavernous Italian restaurant - Haute Time’s destination du jour.
We arrived relatively early - at around 7pm - but the restaurant was already heaving with well heeled types in Hervé Léger dresses and six-inch Louboutins. And for good reason. The Italian eatery has a lot going for it from the louche yet sociable mood (aided by the low lighting), elegant interior (all suede wall panelling, handmade Moroccan tiles, mirrors in solid oak frames and chandeliers with candles) from Geometry Design Moscow and model-sque staff.
There’s also an encyclopedia sized menu that exceeds expectations - Novikov isn’t, contrary to public perception, a case of all style and no substance.
Treats such as delicious breads (so good we munched our way through the whole basket) start arriving almost immediately, as you prepare to peruse the the contemporary Italian menu.
Created by Marco Torri, it comprises a superb assortment of antipasti, Tartare di Salmone o Tonno and Carpaccio di manzo among them, followed by a superior selection of homemade pasta - the Asparagus ravioli had us purring with pleasure.
Moving onto mains, dishes are of the calibre of Branzino Arrosto con Caponata (Roasted wild sea bass fillet served with sweet and sour Sicilian vegetables), while meat includes Piccione al Forno con Cavolo Nero (Oven-roasted pigeon with sautéed cavolo nero).
Rail thin types will resist desert but the rest of us candig into Tiramisu - a classic Italian dish if ever there was one - a wickedly indulgent White chocolate mousse with yuzu, served with lychee and lime granita and a moreish Milk chocolate fondant with hazelnut praline served with vanilla ice cream that you’ll want to lap up like a kitten.
Drinks include a masterfully assembled list of wines and liqueurs (the limoncello is guaranteed to transport you to Italy) but in such stunning surroundings it's a shame not to order something sparkly. Sure prices can be bankers' bonus expensive but who’s counting?
Novikov won’t suit everyone - you either get it or you don’t (and there are plenty of people who love to loathe the glitz and bling). But if you do, like Haute Time, you’ll want to return tomorrow. Bring your appetite and Black Amex - a feast and plenty of fun - awaits. Bon appetit!