Looking for restaurants on Maddox Street? Read our review of Indian restaurant Lucknow 49, and check out our guide for more places to eat in Mayfair here.
Lucknow 49 in a nutshell
Layers of flavour, patience and aromatics define the unique cuisine of this Mayfair restaurant, which is named after the North Indian city of Lucknow.
With The Fat Duck and Hibiscus on his CV, and his own first successful Soho restaurant, chef and founder Dhruv’s Mittal knows more about good hospitality than most. Inspired by his time as a chef at the Oberoi hotel in Agra, focussing on Awadhi dishes, his latest outpost focusses on the same low and slow, perfumed cuisine.
What’s the vibe?
Lucknow 49 might look more traditional that its Soho sister restaurant, Dum Biryani, but regulars to Dhruv’s first restaurant will certainly recognise his love of hip hop and R&B on the playlist. There’s ivy-green walls framed by a dado rail and floral wallpaper, paisley and patterned cushions, clothless wooden tables and staff who have a clear love for what they do.
What’s the food like at Lucknow 49?
Very rarely seen here in the UK, the luxurious flavours and cooking techniques of the Indian city of Lucknow (thanks to its royal residents) are celebrated here on Maddox Street. Dhruv will tell you to appreciate each dish like a fine wine – aroma first. We start with galawat kawab, melt-in-your-mouth beef patties that are bound with green papaya paste, which tenderises the meat, and more than 50 spices. Any chef that can use this many spices and still achieve balance and delicacy is a genius in our book.
There’s various meats cooked over charcoal that you can also choose from to start, but we move onto taar gosht – lamb leg slow cooked for 12 hours with another 30 spices. The super tender meat arrived luxuriously bathing in its masterfully aromatic sauce, made super creamy thanks to the trotter stock it shared the pot with. Murgh qorma sees chicken thighs, slow cooked again, in a rich brown onion and cashew gravy, brightened with vetiver, which is like a clap of dried limes.
The biryanis are as good as you’ll find in Dhruv’s DUM Biryani – the rice super soft, with defined individual grains – while the moong dal makhani, with whole moong lentils cooked in milk for six hours, is surprisingly spicy and zinging with fresh green chilli flavour. Even the breads are cooked gently – layered, leavened gilafa kulcha is enriched with ghee features a secret ingredient of rose, bringing a subtle floral note.
There’s only one dessert to choose from – creamy aminabad kulfi, which is surprisingly not sweet at all, flavoured with saffron, almond and cardamom – bringing a grown-up close to a masterful dinner.
And the drinks?
Work your way through the cocktail list – there’s the same dedication to aroma here as with the food. An ABA pisco sour with rose syrup arrives in a frozen glass and is silky, sweet, sour and floral – it slips down almost as quick as the next. The house negroni is made with craft Indian Jaisalmer gin, artichoke liqueur and chai bitters. Another, spiked with whisky, lapsang souchong, kumquat liqueur and sweet vermouth, arrives in a dramatic cloche of smoke. Come here for these alone and you’ll be happy.
Head here for an affordable taste of Indian luxury on one of London’s premier streets.
Lucknow 49, 49 Maddox Street, Mayfair W1S 2PW
Words by Laura Rowe
Photographs Lucy Richards