Food fit for an oli­garch

Ol­lie Dab­bous’s Rus­sian-backed new open­ing

The Daily Telegraph - Telegraph Magazine - - Contents - Pho­to­graphs by Ben­jamin Mcma­hon

YEVGENY CHICHVARKI­N and Ta­tiana Fok­ina, the wealthy Rus­sian own­ers of Hide, Lon­don’s wildly ac­claimed new three-storey su­per-restau­rant, can’t keep their hands off the place. They smooth arm­rests, ca­ress coun­ters, run their hands along the twisted oak stair­case, and trace pat­terns in the botan­i­cal plas­ter pan­els with a cu­ra­tor’s light touch.

Hide’s or­ganic, tac­tile beauty is a far cry from the load­sa­money pro­duc­tion one might have ex­pected from Chichvarki­n, 43, a mo­bile-phone ty­coon turned wine mer­chant to the su­per­rich, whose May­fair ‘offie’, He­donism Wines, lists a bot­tle of 1847 Yquem for £96,400. Where’s the bling?

‘We have gold,’ Chichvarki­n de­murs, mock-af­fronted. ‘You can find it. We have gold plates.’ Sure enough, in the Bro­ken Room, one of Hide’s four pri­vate din­ing rooms, I find an ex­quis­ite col­lec­tion of cracked ce­ram­ics, their ‘flaws’ re­paired with gold lac­quer in the Ja­panese kintsugi tra­di­tion. An even clearer marker of Chichvarki­n and Fok­ina’s good taste (and deep pock­ets) is the ap­point­ment, as ex­ec­u­tive chef and part­ner, of Ol­lie Dab­bous, one of the most bril­liant Bri­tish chefs of his gen­er­a­tion. Dab­bous, 37, whose epony­mous Fitzrovia de­but was booked solid through­out its five-year run, shocked the in­dus­try when he closed that Miche­lin-starred ‘in­die’ in June 2017 for this mas­sive May­fair project, ru­moured

to have cost more than £20 mil­lion. For Dab­bous (and his mixol­o­gist busi­ness part­ner, Oskar Kin­berg), it was a ‘no­brainer’. ‘Dab­bous had ful­filled its po­ten­tial,’ he says. ‘Hide feels like progress, evo­lu­tion. What we’ve done to­gether here is prob­a­bly greater than what we could have done in­di­vid­u­ally.’

Ru­mours also abound about the whop­ping salary Chichvarki­n must be pay­ing Dab­bous, but the for­mer – an out­spo­ken critic of Vladimir Putin who fled Rus­sia in 2009, and whose worth is es­ti­mated at £118 mil­lion – is coy on the sub­ject. ‘Jour­nal­ists ask me, how much do you pay him? Three times, four times? No. I pay him free­dom, free­dom to cre­ate. That’s some­times more im­por­tant than money,’ says Chichvarki­n, who when I meet him is wear­ing an Am­bush ear­ring and a Child of the Jago T-shirt em­bla­zoned with Eugène Delacroix’s Lib­erty Lead­ing the Peo­ple. ‘Prob­a­bly the only tal­ent I have is to find peo­ple and give them free­dom to cre­ate their art.’

Le Manoir-trained Dab­bous runs the food through­out Hide: in the bar (Be­low), the all-day restau­rant (Ground), and the mez­za­nine fine-din­ing restau­rant with views of Green Park (Above). It’s a 24-hour op­er­a­tion (bak­ers

‘Jour­nal­ists ask me, how much do you pay Ol­lie Dab­bous? I pay him free­dom, free­dom to cre­ate’

and clean­ers work through the night) with 200 staff serv­ing 400 cov­ers from 7.30am un­til 1am. Is Dab­bous feel­ing the pres­sure? ‘I’ve never re­ally felt it or con­sid­ered it. I don’t know if that’s ar­ro­gance or naivety. I’ve worked hard at this.’ He won’t say how many Miche­lin stars he’s af­ter – only that he will be happy if ‘the lads feel they’re on a win­ning team’. (My guess: more than one.)

Dab­bous’s style is, in his words, ‘a lit­tle bit Tim Bur­ton’. He plays up gothic, fairy-tale el­e­ments with dec­o­ra­tive flour­ishes: birch-sap crois­sants im­paled on liquorice sticks; long-stem can­dyfloss roses with the af­ter­noon tea, and, from Above’s £95 tast­ing menu, home­cured meats coiled around feath­ers and bones, and his sig­na­ture cod­dled ‘nest egg’. It’s mag­i­cal, mys­te­ri­ous, and just slightly macabre. And then there’s the wine list – one of the world’s largest. Hide’s ‘pa­per list’ ranges from serfs’ sips at a fiver a glass to a £22,830 ’96 Ro­manée-conti fit for a tsar. Guests can also have a bot­tle from He­donism’s 6,200-strong dig­i­tal list whizzed to Hide in 15 min­utes for a cork­age fee of £30. It’s a sim­i­lar story at Be­low, Oskar Kin­berg’s do­main, where cock­tails start at £12.50 but rare spir­its can tip five fig­ures. ‘I’ve seen things I didn’t know ex­isted,’ says a wide-eyed Kin­berg, 33.

‘Ol­lie’s is the best food for old clas­sic bur­gundies, in my opin­ion,’ pro­nounces Chichvarki­n, who favours old cham­pagne, bur­gundy and, af­ter play­ing polo, ‘mal­bec of course’. He sin­gles out some sur­pris­ingly mod­est bot­tles: the ’66 bur­gundies – ‘not big names’ – at just over £200, and Or­nel­laia ’97 at £354 ‘with some char­cu­terie in the bar’.

Hide’s de­sign, over­seen by CEO Fok­ina, 31, is a match for the food and wine, with some flash de­tails, for ex­am­ple the car lift to a pri­vate room (a relic from the previous ten­ant), and some that non-celebs care about too, such as phone charg­ers at all the tables and gen­er­ous space be­tween them. ‘In Lon­don, space is a lux­ury,’ says Fok­ina, a chic grad­u­ate of Ital­ian from St Peters­burg. Staff uni­forms are dar­ingly the­atri­cal, some pro­duced in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Dab­bous’s de­signer mother (‘the coolest mum’), oth­ers with Maria Grachvo­gel. The gigot-sleeve blouses, Fok­ina found at & Other Sto­ries.

As we walk around the restau­rant, Fok­ina shares a few of its other ‘se­crets’: her foot­prints in the floor­boards, brass rings on a din­ing ta­ble, and Dab­bous’s neck­lace cast in plas­ter by Rachel Dein. ‘It’s al­most like a trea­sure hunt that slowly re­veals it­self to you,’ she says. ‘One of the things that is very close to our hearts is that al­most child­like sen­ti­ment of dis­cov­er­ing. Ol­lie’s food is very much about that. We want even peo­ple who’ve seen it all to be sur­prised.’ 85pic­

‘I’ve never re­ally felt pres­sure,’ says Dab­bous. ‘I don’t know if that’s ar­ro­gance or naivety’

Left Food be­ing pre­pared for ser­vice at Hide’s ground-floor restau­rant, Ground

Above Din­ers at Ground. Be­low The team be­hind Hide (from left): Yevgeny Chichvarki­n, Ta­tiana Fok­ina, Ol­lie Dab­bous and Oskar Kin­berg

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