Occasionally it knocks your socks off’

by Lionel Casey

Lucknow forty-nine, 49 Maddox Street, London W1S 2PQ (020 7491 9191). Starters £6-£sixteen; mains £12-£17.50; cakes £6; wines from £29

While it would be incorrect to argue that most of the Indian subcontinent’s meals are brown, it’s easy to look how a meal at Lucknow forty-nine, the second London organization from chef Dhruv Mittal, would possibly make you attain that conclusion. It’s a parade of dishes which, on a coloration chart, would run the gamut from “dark earth” through “silted river bed” all the manner to “plowed area”. Personally, I don’t have any trouble with brown food; a number of the maximum extreme, strident dishes I have ever eaten have been brown. In cooking, caramelization is your friend and caramel is brown. Others experience differently. Which might also explain why, half of way via dinner, I find myself watching a lightly sauced cauliflower, dressed with a thin scab of shimmering silver leaf.

Some will protest that treasured metals as meals ornament is a cultural factor, with a venerable record in Indian cookery. But I’m now not in India. I’m on Maddox Street on the brink of London’s Mayfair, wherein there’s already too much needless gilding. I don’t like consuming matters which serve no nutritional purpose. I, in particular, don’t like consuming things which can be destined to travel instantly thru me in order that the product at the alternative stop turns out so glittery you can grasp it on a Christmas tree if, say, Tim Burton was in charge of the decorations.

Apart from supplying the possibility to make poo jokes in a restaurant review – by no means to be overlooked – there’s a more severe factor here. How do we evaluate a restaurant like this, wherein the giant bill without a doubt will pay for things like a silver leaf on the cauliflower, which doesn’t have anything to do with the meals? For a begin, Lucknow 49 is a completely relaxed restaurant, actually so. The upholstered bench seating is stacked with throw cushions and bolsters – such a lot of, indeed, that I must chuck a few off to create a space wherein to wriggle my huge arse. There is olive green paintwork, in addition to what seems like a hand-published ornament around the archway into the back dining room, and blocky floral prints. It’s a self-aware take at the domestic, the type of secure fashion that expenses proper money. Accordingly, the most inexpensive bottle of wine is £29 for something drinkable the name of which I can’t keep in mind, and the dinner invoice for two will without difficulty spoil £a hundred thirty.

Let’s forestall there for a second. The reality that you could visit a serviceable excessive-road curry house and pay buttons for indeterminate animal protein batch-cooked in a glowing sauce, with a view to repeating on you for days, does no longer imply meals from the Indian tradition ought to in no way value as lots as that from France, Italy or Japan. If you accept as true with that, you are disregarding the whole of Indian tradition as in some way inferior. You will want to have a protracted hard talk with your self.

The meals just need to be well worth it. At Lucknow forty-nine, a number of it pretty much is and a number of it truly isn’t. (The £nine paratha wraps stuffed with grilled lamb for takeaway at lunchtime may be the first-class deal). It all comes with a compelling narrative: after the fall of the Mughal empire, the royal circle of relatives and their cooks shifted from Delhi to Lucknow. The double lamb chops here, cooked over charcoal, are big, meaty beasts, with a great char, hot, crisped fats, and the rising fragrance of newly roasted spices. Lucky royal own family. The online menu shows them to be £12.50 for two, which is the right cost for this amount and pleasant of meat. I expect it was an excessive amount of cost because on the eating place those outstanding chops are absolutely £16. There are some examples of this, which a polite individual would describe as unlucky. The menu has been updated when you consider that my go to.

 

 

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