Novikov – Asian Restaurant (August 2012)

Appearances can be highly deceptive. On arrival, one could easily be lulled into a false sense of security, greeted by beautiful staff, accompanied by a waiter to the fresh fish bar in order to see the day's produce and seated at a fine table with a good view. I guess I ought to have been suspicious given that the restaurant was far from full. I had indeed had reservations before coming here given that I imagined that it would conceptually be hard to make both good Asian AND good Italian food in the same place. As it happened, the food wasn't bad at all (especially the salt and black pepper frogs' legs – we ate on the Asian side) and particularly at the price point (five dim sum platters of three pieces for £20 at lunch). However, the service was a major disappointment. Three things stood out (i) intrusion and officiousness – waiters constantly milling around, swapping dishes, plates, napkins etc. and impeding general conversation (ii) the wrong dishes – despite not being that busy and it only being two of us for lunch, our order was brought to us incorrectly (iii) paying – ignored by the waiter at the first attempt; perhaps they wanted to keep us there to make the place look full… Ultimately, poor service definitely trumps average-to-good food at a keen price.