What is a bling thing you might ask? Watches, jewellery, sprinkles on a cupcake? No, actually Berkeley Street. And in particular Novikov, run by Arkady Novikov who heads up 50 restaurants in Moscow (talk about monopoly!). The concept here – and there’s always a concept when it comes to Mayfair – is 2 restaurants, one Asian and one Italian, each covering vast spaces that no one would think could be filled in such austere times as these.
However, it doesn’t feel like Novikov’s guests suffer too much. “Everyone looks the same here”, the Italian commented. “Everyone’s got a Chanel bag and fur”. A-ha, the bling things. This is essentially the same crowd that goes to Hakkasan, Nobu (Berkeley Street territory) and Zuma, and ironically the Asian Novikov serves food not too dissimilar. In fact, you can find black cod here, crispy duck salad and even New Style sashimi (my favourite at Nobu). Coincidence? I think not, Novikov knows a successful concept.
Miss E called me the day after my meal and asked how it was. “They have lovely orchids”, was my answer. Indeed, the orchids are awe-inspiring, and there’s a lot of clever attention to detail overall in the restaraurant, which I found beautiful. Comfortable big wooden chairs, chop sticks that won’t give you splinters and a waiter/waitress at your constant beck and call. It’s not the same waiter/waitress however, I think we were served by 10 different staff members, and we were met by at least 4 meet and great personnel before we sat down. Although they were all smiling and friendly, there were just too many of them.
The food was very good, but I would rank Hakkasan or Yauatcha as better. We had pork dumplings with truffle, prawn dumplings and steamed pork buns, followed by small California rolls that you actually could fit in your mouth, without squirting a rice grain or two. That was appreciated. We tried the sweet miso marinated sea bream instead of black cod, but I think black cod would’ve been a better choice, it melts in your mouth in a way sea bream doesn’t. My favourite by far was crispy duck with green apple – I would definitely come back for this fresh salad. We also had some peculiar black cod rolls, covered in something that looked like long sawdust and that came with mango sauce. It was nice, but not orgasmic (although, not many things are to be fair).
Next time I want to sit somewhere where I can look into the open kitchen, taking in all the action. We were now placed next to the orchids (I think you guessed) by the entrance and that’s why we could spot all those 2.55 bags and fur gilets walking in through the swing doors, fully scoping out the clientele. We finished our caramel chocolate fondant with vanilla ice cream and left through the very same swing doors, feeling very full and very content, but not blown away. Maybe it’s because we’ve eaten it all before?
All images belong to Novikov