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A Russian in Mayfair – Novikov Aperitivo:
Despite a couple of years of hard core dining out in London there still seems to be an endless stream of places where I haven’t visited. While an invite to try aperitivo is never going to be a full review, it is a great way to get something of the flavour of a place. So I was very pleased to be invited to Novikov on that basis.
According to the Novikov website, Arkady Novikov is Russia’s most famous and successful restauranteur, with more than 50 restaurants throughout Moscow. And, Novikov in Mayfair is somewhere that in my head at least I had positioned as being for the super-rich. There are immaculately clad but sturdy looking bouncers on the door and smoked glass windows so you can’t actually see inside. It’s just a little bit intimidating – and somewhere I really would have hesitated to try for dinner for fear of an eye-watering bill. Inside though, it’s a lot more relaxed and downstairs there’s a positively cosy bar and lounge area.
In my limited experience in Italy, aperitivo ranges from plates of bruschetta based nibbles, nuts and olives through to an immense spread of cold meats, cheese, figs, pizza and all manner of savoury pastries. Once, having spent FAR too much money on ice-cream in Florence, we managed to eat enough aperitivo along with a couple of glasses of prosecco to negate any need for supper. But that’s not the idea, there’s an unspoken rule that you should enjoy a (small) plate of food for every drink you consumer. It’s a great idea – potentially considerably healthier than two for one cocktails, and a good way for a bar/restaurant to showcase some of the food you can eat later on in the restaurant.
At Novikov in the downstairs bar I discovered that not only were the drinks reasonably priced during aperitivo (£8 for a cocktail, wine or prosecco and £4 for a Moretti beer), but you’ll also enjoy complimentary aperitivo brought to your table. Sllices of home made pizza, cold meats and cheeses with figs, arancini and bruschetta. A veritable feast. It’s all good quality food and the atmosphere is considerably more convivial than in the packed bars and pubs along Picadilly.
So, if you have time to kill between work and the office party, or if you simply want to relax before you try to make your way home, why not pop in and try. Aperitivo is served at Novikov on Monday to Fridays from 5.30 to 7.30pm
Novikov Restaurant and Bar
50 Berkeley Street