While it’d be incorrect to argue that most of the Indian subcontinent’s meals are brown, it’s clean 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 any hassle with brown food; a number 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. Which may also provide an explanation for 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 meals ornament is a cultural issue, with a venerable history in Indian cookery. 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 don’t like consuming matters which serve no nutritional cause. I, in particular, don’t like ingesting matters which can be destined to tour immediately thru 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 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 type of at ease style that prices proper money. Accordingly, the most inexpensive bottle of wine is £29 for some thing drinkable the name of which I can’t keep in mind, and the dinner bill for 2 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 of Indian lifestyle as by some means inferior. You will need to have a long, difficult talk with your self.
The meals simply need to be worth it. At Lucknow 49, some of it quite a lot is and a number of it, in reality, isn’t. (The £nine paratha wraps full of grilled lamb for takeaway at lunchtime can be the pleasant deal). It all comes with a compelling narrative: after the fall of the Mughal empire, the royal family and their chefs shifted from Delhi to Lucknow. The double lamb chops here, cooked over charcoal, are large, meaty beasts, with a high-quality char, hot, crisped fat, and the rising heady scent of newly roasted spices — lucky royal circle of relatives. The on line menu suggests them to be £12.50 for two, which is an ideal cost for this quantity and satisfactory of meat. I count on it changed into too much value, due to the fact 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 being charcoal grilled and are buttery and rich in all of the proper places. They are proof, if wanted, that thigh wins out over breast on every occasion. Potato and inexperienced chili patties are sturdy as opposed to remarkable. Flatbreads, full of lentils and rice dumplings and a heavy dollop of yogurt and chutney, make up the numbers as opposed to 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 the least six hours and for as a whole lot as an afternoon until it has all but fallen apart into its deep darkish sauce, with the brink of that caramel which 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, the cauliflower has anxiety and chew. The whole quail steamed in a stridently spiced gravy points up one of the troubles with this form of cookery. 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 referred to as Dum Biryani which, unsurprisingly, focused on pots of baked, accessorized rice. Curiously it’s far the goat biryani right here that’s 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 with which to lubricate it. Finally, there are more than one extraordinarily candy cakes, a carrot halwa and a milk cake with alphonso mango, to detain you, despite the fact that not for extremely 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 additionally my very satisfactory night time out from the fee of the experience.
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 will nonetheless display you a pleasant time alongside the manner, and also 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.