Lucknow 49 in Mayfair: Tender, flavoursome curries slow-cooked to perfection
If you haven’t heard of Awadhi food yet we don’t blame you (we weren’t familiar with it either until recently), but you better head straight to Lucknow 49 and give their connoisseur cuisine a try. The restaurant takes its name from the North Indian city which, as explained on the menu, is where many artisans, royal family members and cooks moved to after Delhi’s collapse as the capital of the Mughal Empire, making it an arts and fine food hub. We advise you not to visit expecting your classic chicken tikka or your regular biryani, although there’s some space for familiarity in their offering. Instead of this, Dhurv Mittal has curated a space where slow cooking is the key to the dishes.
From curries to veggie patties and signature cocktails, there’s nothing but surprises coming from Lucknow 49. Let’s start with the drinks. Among their extensive list, which ranges from organically grown wines to tea-based mocktails, Pink Mirch and the Phoolish are their standout offerings, without a doubt. Be it in their presentation, their flavour intensity or their originality, the concoctions shine, with exotic, kumquat tones and fresh pink pepper neatly sprinkled on the top to replicate the restaurant’s logo. If the first excels for its coolness and sweet notes, the second is an intense option characterised by a slightly citrusy tang, embellished with the orange-like fruit on the rim of the glass itself.
It’s worth mentioning that the portions are small. Although less common for an Indian restaurant, the modest plates sharing concept give the opportunity to try a bit of everything. This is a great benefit for us, as we can appreciate the cuisine without being overwhelmed at the end of the first few courses, and we’re sure that this would be the case for most of our readers too.
The front of house team know what they are doing and we let them help us with our journey. The result? Spicy lamb patties – Galawat Kawab, rumoured to have been made for toothless nawab – along with some likewise incredibly soft Aloo Tikki Channa Chaat – potato and green chilli patties – and some of the best curries we’ve tried so far around London. All this with a side of crusty Gilafi Kulcha, made in the tandoori oven and great for absorbing the flavours of the curry sauces.
Don’t leave Lucknow without also trying the Murgh Qorma, a slow-cooked chicken thigh in onion and cashew sauce, or the Taar Gosht, in which 30 spices are involved in creating its flavour. If you’re a fan of tender, tasty meat, these are definitely for you. The time and love put into the cooking definitely show across these courses.
For once, it’s very easy to select our options from the dessert menu as we can just go for everything to share. That comprises two idiosyncratic servings of milk cakes, the Rasmalai, topped up with Alphonso mango (just a bit more sour than your usual one) and a beautifully crafted carrot cake, the Kali Gajjar Ka Halwa, with strong notes of cardamom and nuts and a very distinctive colour that will remind you of a chocolate cake (but much better!).
All in all, Lucknow 49 off guard. Beautiful decoration, a straight-to-the-point yet unpredictable menu and some really good curries. An absolute must.
Photos: Cristiana Ferrauti
To book a table at Lucknow 49, 49 Maddox Street Mayfair London W1S 2PQ, call 020 7491 9191 or visit their website here.