If there’s one thing London is good at, it’s a Christmas market. So we had high hopes for ‘Novikov’s’ Mayfair Christmas Market’. Unlike traditional Christmas markets which offer standard mince pies and hot chocolate, the gourmet restaurant served up a fusion of Asian and Italian delicacies for the festive fair at the beginning of the month.
Often, we are forgiving of the sub-standard quality of Christmas market food, instead choosing to focus on the joyous atmosphere and copious amounts of mulled wine we’ve consumed, but in this case the food matched the cheer. We entered into the market – and our food comas – by ravenously consuming big bowls of ramen filled with crispy fried chicken, egg and vegetables on arrival. The stock was thicker than most, and full of flavour. Ramen has the potential to lack flavour, but not in this case. The broth both filled and warmed us in equal measure.
We wouldn’t normally suggest moving from noodles to spaghetti in the space of half an hour, but we found ourselves drifting over to the pasta stall where we ordered two ragu dishes without hesitation. It was a good thing we did, as the pasta was super fresh, and not the least bit stodgy like the market macaroni we are accustomed to. Note: there wasn’t one industrial sized ketchup pump in sight(!).
The market only covered one small street beside Novikov’s base in Mayfair but remarkably we didn’t queue for longer than two minutes for food and drink, and we even managed to secure a sweet spot to sit down beside a real fire!
The food was filled with flavour, so we were confident that the cocktails would match this. Unfortunately, this was the only let down of the market. Perhaps we’d been spoiled by the food, but at £10 a cocktail, we expected the drinks to be of a high standard. No matter how much we mixed them, mine tasted like sickly ginger puree without much else and my friend’s mojito seemed to have a lingering taste of washing up liquid. We might have, albeit begrudgingly, put this down to a freshly washed glass, but the miniature plastic cups they were served in ensured that this wasn’t the case. On the bright side, we chucked the cocktails and moved on to a mulled wine stall, which, at £5 a cup, was a much better option in terms of both price and flavour!
Before we left, we scooped up two £5 pizzas from their stone-baked oven. We saved these until we were back home, tucked up watching Elf (is there any better setting for pizza?). Both the margarita and veg pizzas were gobbled down in minutes, and they were so good cold that I can only imagine what they’d taste like hot. They were light and crispy, and we both commented on the fact that we didn’t feel remotely greasy afterwards. Guilt free pizza has to be a winner!
If you missed the Christmas market, we recommend you check out the restaurant. Our advice? Skip the cocktails and go when you’re hungry – you won’t want to have to choose between ragu or rice, so have both!