"Dinner at Novikov is great, but be prepared to splash out"Review Rating: Reviewed by Leila
Arkady Novikov is something of a celebrity. At least he is in Russia, where he owns over 50 restaurants and a chain of supermarkets; he’s also appeared on the Russian version of The Apprentice. His empire includes fast food eateries serving Russian cuisine, but mostly, he caters to Moscow’s super-elite – Vladimir Putin & Wife are close friends. His first London establishment, unsurprisingly, is not done by halves; he’s opened a multi-dining venue serving (somewhat predictably) Pan-Asian on the ground floor and Italian upstairs. The location is Mayfair and most of the staff could be part time models, sound familiar?
It cost a very large sum of money indeed to create Novikov, but it’s not particularly ostentatious, in fact the de rigeur atmospheric lighting and wood panelling on the walls and ceiling seem austere given its aspirations. The best bit is the colourful display of seafood and vegetables in front of the exposed kitchen, from which items can be selected and cooked to order by diners.
Although there are meat dishes on the menu, the seafood and fish beckon, particularly after seeing them exposed so provocatively. The tuna tartare is glammed up with dollops of Russian caviar on top, salty and delicious. A platter of sashimi has beautifully presented chunks of tuna, mackerel, salmon and sea bass, paired with a sea urchin, which is silky in texture and milder than expected. Thinly sliced tuna sashimi is excellent when doused in the very citrusy yuzu dressing.
The vegetable dim sum, labelled “honey buns”, are as sweet and fluffy as they sound, and a refreshing green tea noodle salad arrives with slices of raw tuna and an orangey dressing, by which point I’m ready to admit that the food here is good, even great, and we haven’t even got to the mains yet. The miso black cod, with sweet, delicate flesh has hints of yuzu; if only black cod was served in indulgent T-bone style proportions (especially at £35 a pop). The robata-grilled king crab is succulent and buttery, then the fiery wasabi mayonnaise kicks in, cranking the flavour up considerably.
The desserts may be standard fare for a Pan-Asian restaurant: green tea brûlée with guava sorbet, cold coconut custard with chunks of peach, but really, we’re nit-picking. Novikov delivers far more than a glamorous dining room but be prepared to splash out, as dinner will set you back around £100 a head.
Leila reviewed Novikov on Tue 17 Jan 2012