A new Mayfair restaurant from ex-Fat Duck chef and founder of DUM Biryani, Dhruv Mittal. The casual Maddox Street eatery serves a menu of Lucknowi dishes (a variety of North Indian cuisine) in a laidback setting.
The door is wide open on the warm evening we visit, and the relaxed vibe is a refreshing welcome for this Mayfair address. There are large windows facing out onto Maddox Street and the space is light and airy. The decor nods to India but not in a hackneyed way with hibiscus printed wallpaper, comfy banquettes piled high with patterned cushions and circular teal tables topped with blush pink crockery. Carefully placed vintage photographs and original trinkets give it a homely feel.
The crowd was mainly young professionals catching a post-work dinner. A mix of couples and groups all keen to try the much-hyped joint. It’s the sort of place that encourages whiling away a good few hours nattering, which we certainly did. My friend and I were so busy putting the world to rights we stayed a good hour after the plates were cleared.
In 2019, Londoners are spoilt for choice when it comes to upmarket Indian restaurants but Lucknow 49 claims to offer something unique, Awadhi cuisine. ‘Awadh’ was the name of the state where Lucknow is situated during the time of the Mughal rule. Subsequently, it’s an aromatic cuisine that takes influence from both Asia and the Middle East. To you and me that means biryanis, curries and kebabs, often with a focus on slow-cooked dishes. Considering Mittal did a stint at Oberoi hotel in Agra (not far from this region), he is the right man to bring the cuisine to London.
The dinner menu is relatively small and designed to share. We started with Aloo Tikki Channa Chaat (£8.5) and Galawat Kawab (£9). The veggie option, a crispy potato parcel on a bed of spiced chickpeas and tangy apricot chutney, was delicious and my meat-eating companion sung is praises in comparison to the lamb patties (always a high accolade).
For main we shared the Dum Bhindi (£10), a spicy dry okra dish, Moond Dal Makhani (£7), a slow-cooked dal, Awadhi Sabzi Biryani (£11), a veggie take on biryani, and my meat-eating companion tried the Taar Gosht (£16), their signature slow-cooked lamb. The biryani was bursting with flavour, the dal perfectly rich and creamy and, although the okra was a little too spicy for me, the crispy dry dish added something a little different. The lamb, a signature dish and cooked for 12 hours in 30 spices, received the highest praise from my dining companion.
We also sampled the single dessert option, the Aminad Kulfi (£5). A traditional dessert that can be described as a fragrant cross between melted ice cream and custard. Not normally my cup of tea but a good way to round off a spicy meal.
The drinks menu includes a short wine list curated by Zeren Wilson (of Smoking Goat and Kiln fame), Indian-inspired cocktails (and mocktails), and a bespoke beer created with Hackney Brewery. We tried the Pink Murch (£8), a delicious twist on the classic pairing of gin and elderflower with a hint of pink pepper, and Pisco & Rose (£8), an aromatic sour short. This was followed by a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, both crisp and drinkable, it was perfect compliment to the food.
In a nutshell
Full-of-flavour food, colourful interiors and a relaxed atmosphere make this a welcome addition to the restaurant Mayfair scene.
49 Maddox St, Mayfair, London W1S 2PQ; 020 7491 9191; lucknowldn.com