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If you had dinner in the Kremlin with Vladimir and the gang, it would probably look something like this. Opulence for oligarchs. When I walked through the revolving door – revolved for me by a larger than life bouncer (former KGB no doubt) – I was met by a sea of diamonds, perfumes and more than a little arrogance. I’m sure a lot of people will hate this place purely by looking in the window. Oil sheiks accompanied by eastern european girls with pins straight from the catwalk surround the bar, paying £12.86 for a gin and tonic. And it wasn’t even Tanqueray.

Dinner this time was in the Italian section (straight ahead from the lobby), but there is plenty of sushi and black cod (on the left) for those of the Asian persuasion. We forced our way through the sea of legs, black lace and money to our table. It was large and round, lifted no doubt from Camelot, and too big to have a conversation. The music was blaring. I shouted loudly at my boss on the other side, but he was miles away (literally).

We had about 7 waiters for a table of 10, and all of them trying to do the same thing. One of them spoke Italian and had a curly moustache like the guy from the Go Compare adverts, so I assume he was the king. He brought over a magnum of red wine. It was good but god only knows how much it cost. The lounge bar downstairs sells red and white wine starting at £60 a bottle, for the cheap stuff.

The food was good but not great, and certainly not cheap. But plentiful and tasty enough to please most people. Rib-eye steak at £39, Lamb Cutlets £25, Slow-cooked pork £24. Add that to a pasta starter at £20 and you’re looking at close to £60 a head for 2 courses with service. Not including wine.But then again you are in Mayfair, surrounded by hedge fund managers and Putin’s friends, so what do you expect.

It’s excessive and entertaining, and the food is good. Not the best I’ve ever had by a long way, but you pay for the privilege of people watching. For the botox and the bling. For the long legs and the greasy geezers draped in gold. For the table of four Russian beauties, no older than 22 surely, who sit at the table next to you with their Daddy’s Black Amex. This is London, international playboy city for the nouveau riche of the developing world, and Novikov is their playground.

by James Russell