Lucknow forty nine, London: ‘Occasionally it knocks your socks off’ – eating place review

While it’d be incorrect to argue that most of the Indian subcontinent’s meals are brown, it’s clear to see how a meal at Lucknow 49, the second London agency from chef Dhruv Mittal, may make you attain that end. It’s a parade of dishes which, on a color chart, could run the gamut from “darkish earth” through “silted river bed” to “plowed subject.” I haven’t had any hassle with brown food; many of the most extreme, strident dishes I have ever eaten have been brown. In cooking, caramelization is your pal, and caramel is brown. Others feel differently. This may also explain why, half manner via dinner, I find myself watching a gently sauced cauliflower dressed with a thin scab of shimmering silver leaf.

Some will protest that treasured metals as meal ornament are cultural issues with a venerable history in Indian cuisine. But I’m now not in India. I’m on Maddox Street on the brink of London’s Mayfair, wherein there’s already too much pointless gilding. I wouldn’t say I like consuming things that serve no nutritional cause. In particular, I wouldn’t say I like ingesting issues that can be destined to tour immediately through me so that the product at the alternative end turns out so glittery you could cling it on a Christmas tree if, say, Tim Burton turned into in the price of the decorations.


Apart from providing the opportunity to make poo jokes in a restaurant overview – never to be missed – there’s a greater severe factor here. How do we evaluate an eating place like this, where the extensive invoice clearly will pay for such things as a silver leaf at the cauliflower, which has nothing to do with the meals? For a start, Lucknow 49 is a very comfy eating place, literally so. The upholstered bench seating is stacked with throw cushions and bolsters – so many, indeed, that I need to chuck a few off to create an area in which to wriggle my tremendous arse. There is olive green paintwork, in addition to what seems like hand-revealed decoration around the archway into the again-eating room, and blocky floral prints. It’s a self-aware take at home, the at-ease style that prices proper money. Accordingly, the most inexpensive wine bottle is £29 for something drinkable, the name of which I can’t keep in mind, and the dinner bill for two will, without problems, smash £one hundred thirty.

Let’s prevent there for a second. The fact that you can go to a serviceable high-street curry residence and pay buttons for indeterminate animal protein batch-cooked in a glowing sauce so that you can repeat on you for days does not suggest food from the Indian tradition ought to by no means fee as a great deal as that from France, Italy or Japan. If you agree with that, you are dismissing the whole Indian lifestyle as, by some means, inferior. You will need to have a long, difficult talk with yourself.

The meals need to be worth it. At Lucknow 49, some areare quite a lot, and others aren’tt. (The £nine paratha wraps full of grilled lamb for takeaway at lunchtime can be a pleasant deal). It all comes with a compelling narrative: after the Mughal empire’s fall, the royal family and their chefs shifted from Delhi to Lucknow. The double lamb chops cooked over charcoal here are large, meaty beasts with a high-quality char, hot, crisped fat, and the rising heady scent of newly roasted spices — a lucky royal circle of relatives. The online menu suggests that they should be £12.50 for two, which is ideal for this quantity and satisfactory meat. I count on it changing into too much value because, at the eating place, those awesome chops are £16. There are some examples of this, which a polite individual could describe as unfortunate. The menu has been updated, considering I go to.
Boned chook thighs are marinated in a saffron-flavored cream earlier than charcoal grilled and are buttery and rich in all proper places. They are proof, if wanted, that the thigh wins out over the breast on every occasion. Potato and inexperienced chili patties are sturdy as opposed to remarkable. Flatbreads, full of lentils, rice dumplings, and a heavy dollop of yogurt and chutney, make up the numbers instead of thrill.

Of the mains, the true big name is the rain masala. A conventional train recipe calls for a leg of lamb to be roasted for at least six hours and a whole lot like an afternoon until it has all but fallen apart into its deep, darkish sauce, with the brink of that caramel that comes with the virtuous interaction of meat and heat. Here, it is offered on the bone, to which strands cling with little resolve. It’s a boisterous little bit of overtly butch cookery. Come here for this.

If you may forget about the silliness of the silver leaf, there’s the same heft to the cauliflower dish in its dun-colored sauce. Most importantly, it’s been timed flawlessly. It might have been so much watery mush to be gummed away. However, cauliflower is anxious and chewy. The whole quail steamed in a stridently spiced gravy points up one of the troubles with this form of cooking. When a sauce is so multilayered and complete on, the meat under it could be something; quail is delicate and doesn’t pretty get up to this armed assault. However, the dish isn’t always an unwelcome presence. Dhruv Mittal introduced himself formerly with a restaurant in Soho called Dum Biryani, which, unsurprisingly, focused on pots of baked, accessorized rice. Curiously, it’s far the goat biryani right here, which is the least magnificent or generous. It’s just a little dry and meager. The meat is tough.

Still, there’s a luscious, albeit small, serving of dal makhani for £7 to lubricate it. Finally, there is more than one extraordinary candy cake, a carrot halwa and a milk cake with Alphonso mango, to detain you, even though not for long. This is one of those moments where now not handiest do I have to separate the impact of silver leaf from the underlying dish, However, my very satisfactory night time out from the experience fee.

Understand Lucknow 49 as a cozy Indian eating place in London’s Mayfair on the way to only now and then knock your socks off, but it will display you a pleasant time alongside the manner, and you won’t be upset. Bizarrely, in a complicated London eating place quarter that’s every so often intricate to navigate, it’s greater of advice than it might seem.

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