Ever since Evgeny Chichvarkin opened Hedonism Wines on Davies Street, he's become not just a frequent visitor, but practically a resident of the Mayfair neighborhood. We asked him to recommend places "in the neighborhood" worth going to in order to engage in hedonism.
Because there are no social houses here, though there are occasional visiting tourists. Because it's a concentration of money and fashion and banks and flagship stores. Weird Arabs live here, even weirder Russians, French, Americans. It's all jumbled up. Quiet modest billionaires, pompous bankrupts - blooming, glittering and splashing. Ancient clubs, auction houses, diamond placers, bums, who ask for 35 thousand pounds from every passer-by. More than 40 Michelin stars if you add up all the restaurants. And probably another 100 if you add hotels. In 2005, the bourgeois part of the area was the little slice between New Bond Street and Old Bond Street, and that - the bottom store is decent, and the top is something dirty, incomprehensible. The way the city neatly changes every summer or fall can be seen with the naked eye. It is slowly turning into a place pleasant for walking, beautiful, quiet, bright, clean. And six or seven years ago, some of the streets were uncomfortable to walk through in the evening because they looked like the back alleys of Jack the Ripper. And if you look at the projects that appear there now, it is clear that hundreds of millions of pounds have been invested in the city.
If the day starts "in the neighborhood", I go to Claridge's. It's better not to go there if time is bad, but in general there are very good baked goods, and for me at the beginning of the day it's very important to get sugar in a tasty and pleasant way. Lots of fresh juices, options for vegetarians and fans of "greens" like spinach and asparagus, which are very nicely served. If you order a pan-seared duck egg with chorizo, for example, you can forget about lunch. If you want to go wild, you can start with champagne and sprinkle caviar on your beard.
When hungover, it's worth waiting for lunch at Jamavar. The only downside is there's no soup. If it's lunch, it's always about time. They cook very fast at Hakkasan. I leave the office, go there, eat a few plates of pseudo-Chinese food, come back and I'm done in an hour.
I am very fond of Shapero Rare Books. Of recent acquisitions - a book by Nureyev with his signature, a lifetime edition of Beatrix Potter, books from Berezovsky's collection, including Journey, which is not yet from St. Petersburg to Moscow, but Journey, published here by Gertsen, one of the first editions of Alice in Wonderland.
We often go there to the Royal Academy of Arts - during Summer Exhibition, as well as many other exhibitions, it is very interesting. And by autumn the whole Berkeley Square is transformed: then Frieze, then LAPADA, the girls are spirited, with their temples shaved off, wearing strange clothes.
If I want Italian, however, there's a pizzeria called Delfino's on Mount Street, where they make a flat, crispy pizza for very quickly, which won't be too filling when you can't breathe after eating it. I usually get the seafood ones, and when it's cold and hungry it's the calzone, that kind of big pie with sausage. And coffee! Just as the French can't make coffee well, the Italians can't make it bad!
The jewel of the neighborhood is Mount Street Gardens. It's a great place to meditate. There are lots of benches, about 15 big trees - though there are more bans than trees.
There are all sorts of people who come to us at Hedonism Wines. Sometimes two Rolls-Royce cars stop and a brightly dressed delegation from Southeast Asia comes out and looks right through you, a skittish girl who has studied here translates for them. Often, tall, loud men under six-foot ninety in blue ties with strong American accents walk in. These categories are very close to the concept of hedonism. There are Russian tourists every day: the women already show in advance with all their looks that they are not happy about how much will be spent here, and think that it is dangerous to be photographed with Chichvarkin. Sometimes at about 5:47, having changed her high-heeled shoes for ballet flats, a girl with a suitcase, a novice lawyer or something like that, runs in. And we know for a fact that she has 90 seconds to buy and we have 90 seconds to sell. We're in. There's a family or company that taps their teeth, asks around a lot, slowly starts to teach you. And then it turns out that they are suppliers or chateau owners, of course, Europeans.
We are hedonists, we have a feast every day. So for dinner we have to ask ourselves whether wine is important or not. If it's important, there aren't many places: The Square, Hélène Darroze's cuisine at The Connaught, Galvin at Windows, Pollen Street Social. If sushi, The Araki; if eel plays a part in your life, Umu. If Chinese, Park Chinois has the most polished presentation; if pan-Asian, Novikov. If you want Indian cuisine combed and adapted to bourgeois tastes, then Gymkhana.