A cosy curry house on Mayfair’s Maddox Street, which is fast becoming a key area for upscale Indian cuisine. Bombay Bustle came first, taking over the site of Claude Bosi’s Hibiscus, with Atul Kochhar’s Kanishka opening soon after. Compared to the competition, Lucknow 49, which is tucked further away from Regent Street than either of its competitors and more into Mayfair, looks a little lower budget. But with its compact menu offering greater affordability, it could prove to be the most consumer-friendly of the three.
The Cordon Bleu-trained Dhruv Mittal, who is also the chef behind DUM Biryani on Soho’s Wardour Street. Mittal has travelled extensively throughout India during his career, honing his skill of the country’s regional cuisines, and Lucknow 49 reflects Mittal’s time spent in the Northern Indian region of Uttar Pradesh, specifically in the eponymous city of Lucknow.
Mittal has created the menu with the help of executive chef Irfan Khan, nephew of Imtiyaz Qureshi of ITC Dum Pukht fame. The city of Lucknow is famous for its galawati kawab, a gently fried meat patty with a smooth texture, which is available at lunchtime wrapped in a kulcha flatbread and as a starter on the main menu. There’s also a lentil stuffed flatbread, served with rice dumplings, yoghurt, tamarind and coriander chutney; and saffron and cream flavoured chicken thigh that’s cooked over charcoal. Mains include Awadhi goat biryani of slow cooked marinated goat layered with rice, saffron and perfumed roots; whole quail cooked using its own steam in a perfumed, spiced curry; and lamb leg slow cooked in trotter stock for 12 hours with over 30 spices. Sides feature a moong makhani dal of whole moong lentils slow cooked in milk for six hours; gilafi kulchas; and a chutney of pickled lacha onion and homemade coriander. For dessert there’s the single option of aminabad kulfi, a traditional milk-based ice cream mixed with saffron, almond and cardamom.
In contrast to the glitz of Kanishka and Bombay Bustle, Lucknow 49 adopts a warmer, more rustic appearance. Walls are painted with earthier tones that’s complimented by low-level lighting and an unimposing soundtrack of acoustic Indian beats. Adorning the walls are vintage photographs, many of which have been subtlety altered with green and purple pens, instilling the space with a cheeky, friendly character.
And another thing:
Instagram Influencers may be put off by the rather unphotogenic nature of some of Lucknow 49’s key dishes, but more fool them. The presentation may be modest – there’s only so much one can do with meat and sauce – but the flavours are rich and complex. Khan’s authentic take on a relatively unknown style of Indian cooking – Mittal says Lucknow 49 is the only restaurant of its type in the whole of Europe – looks set to make this low-key restaurant a sleeper hit.
49 Maddox St, Mayfair