With elite restaurateur Arkady Novikov at the helm, the Novikov brand has become synonymous with high end dining. The list of clientèle ranges from Russian President Vladimir Putin to supermodel Naomi Campbell. So I rightfully asked myself, what on earth am I doing here? Reservations aside, I decided to test the cliché that you get what you pay for and ventured to Berkeley Street.
Guests are greeted by hostesses standing in unison with bright smiles and floral fuchsia sun dresses. You are promptly asked whether you plan on Asian or Italian dining as they are split into two restaurants. There is also a stylish bar downstairs for those who don't mind parting with £15 per cocktail. The itinerary was for Italian cuisine that evening, so I was directed down the hall by one of the flowery hostesses towards yet another host.
I do have to say that the scale was impressive and décor was what I would describe as a rustic meets modern design flavour with open market baskets filled with produce, dim lighting and candelabras cascading from the ceiling.
The open concept kitchen was infused with liveliness from the cooking staff as they hurried to conquer the evening's orders. I tried the Galleto otherwise known as the stone baked baby chicken with a side of spinach to accompany.
The food came shockingly fast which initially left me with an air of suspicion. The chicken was prepared very simply with a bit of flourish for presentation as the five baby legs were arranged circularly. The old adage 'tastes like chicken' was quite appropriate as the flavours were quite what one would expect. The skin was crispy and the meat was easily coaxed off the bone.
My accompanying glass of pinot noir rivalled the price of the stone baked chicken itself. The grilled sea bream fillet with roasted vegetables was prepared with the whole skin still on but was also quite ordinary in taste.
But be forewarned as this is place is not for light pockets. Once finished, the table was promptly stripped to provide a clear indicator that one was not to linger unless more was to be ordered. Once the bill arrived it was apparent that Novikov was catering to a Mayfair mass not interested in value for money. I
In its totality, the food was neither lacking nor spectacular, but the bill was most definitely suited for an oligarch's tastes. Hopefully for Arkady no one will notice…