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“A playground for oligarchs” – Arkady Novikov’s infamously glam, Eurotrash-magnet remains one of Mayfair’s most happening scenes, luring the fast crowd with its mix of light Asian bites, sushi, grills and noodles. It’s not exactly somewhere to go if you’re counting the pennies, but, actually, “dim sum at lunch is excellent and very reasonably priced”.
For a “perfect, fun buzzy time”, this glam Russian-owned pan-Asian near Berkeley Square is a perennial smash hit with a glossy, very Mayfair crowd. Its mix of sushi, dim sum, charcoal grill dishes and noodles is dependably delectable, but if you are at all budget-conscious, spare yourself the stress induced by the bill and head elsewhere.
“Sod the bill!” – “The buzz is electric and the pan-Asian small plates delectable” at this “brassy” and “theatrical” Russian-owned scene near Berkeley Square, where the crowd’s “always very glamorous”.
“It’s flash, gaudy, and the crowd is very Mayfair”, but “if you overlook the nightclub style” of this Russian-owned scene near Berkeley Square, “the pan-Asian food is actually exceptional – the best ingredients prepared very well… just at cripplingly expensive prices”.
|Wine per bottle||£26.00|
From the leading Muscovite restaurateur, a very large pan-Asian dining room that looks set to become a popular Mayfair destination, perhaps mainly for business; the smoothness of the operation on our early-days visit was impressive.
If a success, this 400-seat Mayfair newcomer could quite possibly end up biggest-grossing restaurant in London. Comprising large dining rooms both Italian and Asian and an enormous basement bar, it's roughly a third bigger than the D&D ('Conran') group's Quaglino's or Ramsay's Bread Street, which are as big as quality London restaurants currently get.
The Conran comparison is particularly apposite, as Arkady Novikov is the Sir Terence Conran of Moscow, just much bigger. Claiming 50 restaurants in the Russian capital, his empire is at least twice the size of D&D's. That's the sort of success that buys you toys such as Gianni Versace's former house on Lake Como, as well as a handy townhouse in Knightsbridge.
The new restaurant occupies a site where others have tried and failed, so the obvious question is: is Mayfair going to be Mr Novikov's Waterloo? Initial impressions are indeed that the Italian restaurant feels like a bit of a ballroom - how is that going to work in a city where upmarket Italians are invariably on an intimate scale? The panelled basement bar, however, is a great space, which we suspect will become a popular rendezvous; let's hope it doesn't end up ALL Russians and their striking nieces.
But our mission that day was to check out the on-your-way-in Asian restaurant. With its unadorned dark wood tables, and the glazed-in kitchen visible in the distance, it has a somewhat Identikit quality about it - not unpleasant, but not a particular attraction in its own right either. Pretty much ideal, then, for the sort of informal business lunching which had already drawn quite a good crowd by the time of our early-days visit.
Service was notably on the ball. Perhaps Jamie and Gordon - home town boys both nominally responsible for major-early-days-service-fiascos in recent times - could learn a bit from the guys from Moscow?
The real surprise, however, was the food - which was, with one exception, consistently impressive. The quality comes as more a shock, because a pan-Asian menu - by definition - lacks any sort of coherency. From a reviewing point of view, that makes it curiously easy, as you just have to order one of everything - sushi, skewers, dim sum, barbecue. All of the above were just very good, with the surprise highlight being a dish of truffled duck. The only dish that didn't quite live up to its price tag (£45!) was some tempura lobster - not bad, just not really worth the expense. Otherwise, the prices seemed pretty reasonable. For Mayfair.
So, perhaps this juggernaut can roll on. It's certainly going to be interesting'
50a Berkeley Street, London, W1J 8HA
|Monday||12 pm‑5:30 pm, 5:30 pm‑12 am|
|Tuesday||12 pm‑5:30 pm, 5:30 pm‑12 am|
|Wednesday||12 pm‑5:30 pm, 5:30 pm‑12 am|
|Thursday||12 pm‑5:30 pm, 5:30 pm‑12 am|
|Friday||12 pm‑5:30 pm, 5:30 pm‑12 am|
|Saturday||12 pm‑12 am|
|Sunday||12 pm‑12 am|