Lucknow forty-nine, forty-nine Maddox Street, London W1S 2PQ (020 7491 9191). Starters £6-£16; mains £12-£17.50; cakes £6; wines from £29
While it’d be wrong to argue that the maximum of the Indian subcontinent’s meals is brown, it’s easy to peer how a meal at Lucknow forty-nine, the second London enterprise from chef Dhruv Mittal, may make you reach that conclusion. It’s a parade of dishes which, on a color chart, could run the gamut from “darkish earth” via “silted river mattress” all of the way to “plowed subject.” I have no trouble with brown meals; many of the most severe, strident dishes I have ever eaten were brown. In cooking, caramelization is your friend, and caramel is brown. Others sense otherwise. This may additionally explain why, halfway through dinner, I find myself staring at a gently sauced cauliflower, dressed with a thin scab of shimmering silver leaf.
Some will protest that precious metals as meals decoration are a cultural element, with an old record in Indian cookery. But I’m now not in India. I’m on Maddox Street on the threshold of London’s Mayfair, where there’s already too much unnecessary gilding. I wouldn’t say I like eating things that serve no dietary motive. I particularly don’t like consuming matters which are destined to journey straight via me so that the product at the alternative give up seems so glittery you may hang it on a Christmas tree if, say, Tim Burton was in the price of the decorations.
Apart from offering the possibility to make poo jokes in a restaurant assessment – in no way to be missed – there’s an extra extreme factor here. How can we examine an eating place like this, where the considerable invoice virtually can pay for things like a silver leaf at the cauliflower, which has nothing to do with the meals? For a start, Lucknow 49 is an entirely relaxed eating place, literally so. The upholstered bench seating is stacked with throw cushions and bolsters – so many, indeed, that I must chuck some off to create a space in which to wriggle my massive arse. There is olive green paintwork and what looks like hand-revealed decoration around the archway into the back dining room and blocky floral prints. It’s a self-aware take on the home, the kind of secure style that prices proper cash. Accordingly, the cheapest bottle of wine is £29 for something drinkable, the name of which I can’t take into account, and the dinner invoice for two will effortlessly destroy £one hundred thirty.
Let’s prevent it there for a second. The truth that you may go to a serviceable high-avenue curry residence and pay buttons for indeterminate animal protein batch-cooked in a glowing sauce, on the way to repeat on you for days, does no longer imply meals from the Indian way of life ought to in no way cost as a whole lot as that from France, Italy or Japan. If you trust that, you disregard the complete Indian lifestyle as one way or the other inferior. You will need to have an extended tough communication with yourself.
Meals wish to be worth it. At Lucknow forty-nine, a number of it pretty a great deal is, and a number of it isn’t. (The £nine paratha wraps filled with grilled lamb for takeaway at lunchtime can be the high-quality 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 significant, meaty beasts, with a great char, warm, crisped fats, and the rising heady scent of newly roasted spices — the lucky royal circle of relatives. The online menu shows them £12.50 for two, which is a good value for this amount and excellent meat. However, I count on it was too much cost, because at the eating place these exquisite chops are £16. There are some examples of this, which a well-mannered individual would describe as unlucky. The menu has been updated due to the fact of my visit.