Tanya Gold Tanya Gold

Food: Dinner drama

Novikov is an immense two-storey restaurant in deepest Mayfair. It serves Asian on the ground floor and Italian in the vaults. This is not an austerity restaurant, or anything near; it is bigger than a Harvester and full of the glow of fortified money. There are actually people smoking outside in happy clumps. For some reason I think of a T’Pau gig.

This barn is the baby of the Russian restaurateur Arkady Novikov, ‘the Blini Baron’. He must like pretty girls because there are many of them employed here, in identical pink dresses, tossing their hair all over the place, as if they want to be free of it. And their legs! If I had legs like that I’d run around shouting, ‘Legs! Legs! I have legs!’ The Asian floor is dark and dank with an immense fruit market poised by the open kitchen, so it looks like a cross between a street in Tbilisi and Tramp. Downstairs, past a queue for a nightclub, and they say they don’t have my reservation, which I procured online. There is a Gold, yes, but that is a table for six. Perhaps it is a more fashionable cousin? I have a TV star cousin who was nominated for two daytime Emmys for a soap opera called Guiding Light but he is called Ricky Paull Goldin (the double l is not an error). I threaten to show them my reservation confirmation email, which is, in restaurant terms, a T42 tank. ‘I believe you!’ says the pink one, even though, in any case, I was wrong, and booked Asian. (Please don’t shoot!) So here I am, in a big, loud space, full of men, Italian food and people shouting. How to describe the decor? Munich beer-hall putsch meets Play School, I would say. There are cartoon trees painted on the walls; they look like the Tory Tree, but more robust.

Now a friend is joining me.

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