Food fit for an oligarch
Ollie Dabbous’s Russian-backed new opening
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.’ 85piccadilly.co.uk
‘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