What a great venue for the first post lockdown dinner. It doesn’t get more Italian than Novikov. Before we break into the lyrics of O sole Mio (Just one Cornetto version), Mayfair’s three floor, glamorous three in one destination is still the place to see-and-be-seen.
The Italian experience is enhanced by a number of measures now in place including a one way system and fogging machine with a non-chemical solution to clean surfaces. There is also a maximum of six guests per table and at least a one metre distance between tables.
Look beyond this Mayfair frontage and you will discover a true dedication to the best ingredients and a wide choice of delicacies on offer. On the ground floor is a buzzing Asian restaurant whilst in the basement, a louche lounge bar. Between these sits an Italian restaurant with all the class and elegance of Valentino and Versace. Fronted by an amazing display of live seafood, truffles and other Italian goodies, the room is marble floored with a high palacial ceiling, rustic chandeliers and a vast wine library.
The food menu of almost 100 options is comprehensive so we suggest reading up before although a charming front of house team (who still sing happy birthday to lucky guests with great gusto and sparklers) are always ready to help. If you are the type to umm and ahh over what to choose, this could tip you over the edge and in need of a beautifully made gin martini from the bar with a double twist of Amalfi lemon.
The best way to experience Novikov is in true Italian sharing style – a couple of starters, pasta as a middle course and then some fish or meat. What we loved about the menu was that you could spend as much (Royal caviar at £89 for 50 grams) or as little (gorgeous crispy roast potatoes with rosemary for £7) as you like and still have a great time.
The quality and provenance of ingredients throughout is impressive with proper Italian produce (olive oil, burrata and much more), fresh local seafood (we tried a lobster linguine) and their own varieties of micro herbs, salads and vegetables grown in a walled garden by Mr and Mrs Stephens at Brent Eleigh Hall in Suffolk.
To begin, a generous basket of breads (great focaccia) kicked off our feast. A stand out dish was a deceivingly simple king crab salad with avocado and the simplicity of this plate made the king crab textures and flavour stand out.
For our pasta course, a linguine with Scottish lobster was so tender and packing a lobster punch from a rich, full lobster bisque.
For mains, the dish of Italian dons, the Tagliata, had to be road tested for authenticity and it really was. A delicious combination of sliced medium-rare beef fillet with carefully cut (not grated) parmesan and rocket, dressed in cooking juices, garlic and a Novikov twist of tangy Worcester sauce. For dessert, we would recommend some tiramisu and a glass of fragrant dense grappa.
After dinner, you MUST check out the bar downstairs which is as louche now as it always has been, especially after midnight…
As much as small menus make us feel safe, having a big choice was enjoyable. This is what makes Novikov Italian as all encompassing as O sole mio.
To discover more, visit: novikovrestaurant.co.uk
(apologies if the song is now stuck in your head all day)
All images courtesy of Novikov Restaurant.
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