23 May 2019: Lucknow 49 - Lucknow, curry later
As expensive as London is, curry is often a good value eating option - maximising quantity and quality for a not too lofty price. In fact, some of the most authentic options are the cheapest and compare favourably on price to your average curryhouse outside the M25. As such, I've tended to avoid the more spenny curry houses based on a healthy skepticism that their higher prices won't bring an altogether better experience. Sure, you might get a nice table and courteous waiting staff, but does that really matter? Surely, it's the food that counts, right?
Nevertheless, with more and more premium options opening up it's only right to break the bank every now and again to sample the finer, Indian dining options. Mayfair, in particular Maddox Street, seems to be a hotbed for hot curry, and so it was there that my search for spicy delight took me next. Joining me to sample Lucknow 49 were serial blog contributors, Krishen, Angela and Nate. Previous visits had gone well so would we be in luck now? Read on to see how we fared in Mayfair.
Lucknow 49 is a new addition to the London food scene from the team behind Soho's Dum Biryani. Named after the north Indian city, it is found on Mayfair's Maddox Street and accordingly very stylish within. A far cry from the rough and ready diners in Whitechapel or Tooting, Lucknow 49 has a minimalist, chic style akin to Marylebone's Hoppers, but with far more soft furnishings. Wall hangings, garlands and black and white photos with psychedelic colours drawn on join patterned cushions and flowery wallpaper in a cosey, souk-meets-MADE living room environment. The atmosphere is a relaxed one as a result, tinged with low volume pop music and the chat of patrons.
With very few curry houses matching this style it's a high mark from us for Venue.
Starters and sides
Gosht Barrah Chops
Aloo Tikka Channa Chaat
Zaffrani Murgh Tikka
Kammal Kakdi Raita
In line with modern trends, Lucknow's menu is limited to a handful of starters, curries and accompaniments, which comes with the added benefit of being able to sample the majority of the menu.
To kick things off we had the gosht barrah lamb chops: thick and juicy cuts that were, perfectly tender and topped off with a lovely mint sauce. These were good enough to rival Booma's incredible pudhina lamb chops; a great start.
More meat was on the cards next with the galawat kawab, a lamb patty similar to a chapli kebab but with over fifty spices and all the better for it. Similar in form were the aloo tikka channa chaat, chickpea patties which were equally blessed with a range of flavours. These falafel-style bites were complemented with a fruity chutney that added further crunch to a good blend of textures. However, it didn't quite match similar dishes found elsewhere, namely at Salaam Namaste and Booma, and neither was it, or the kewab, particularly well presented.
Our fourth starter was the zaffrani murgh tikka, which was described by our waiter as 'the lamborghini of chicken'. I wouldn't go as far as that, but these simple looking chicken tikka thighs were as equally well-cooked and delectable as the chops.
As sides we had the kammal kakdi raita and gilafi kulcha flatbreads. The former, a lotus root and cumin infused, spicy yoghurt, would be a brilliant accompaniment to anything, whilst the bread was fresh with a soft, sour dough vibe.
Overall, the Sides and Starters exemplified the quality on offer here and whilst more bread options would be welcome, it's a strong 8 out of 10.
Awadhi Goat Biryani
Dum Ka Quail
For mains it was another four dishes.
The 12-hour, slow cooked taar gosht leapt out on the menu, but proved more disappointing in reality, especially when not delivered on the bone. Whilst tender it was still a little fatty despite it's slow creation and it's rich brown sauce was a bit lacklustre - the sum of over 30 spices perhaps not being greater than their individual parts. The same could be said of both the chicken qorma and the quail, perfectly cooked meat, but a little bit samey and bland, especially for the price tag. The diminutive quail also made for a particularly sorry sight sat in a shallow puddle of beige.
Better was the goat biryani, with good mositure, fragrant notes and excellently cooked meat, but this still wasn't the best biryani around.
In sum, the mains were a little disappointing and not the best looking dishes either. Their quality in creation was evident, but the texture and flavours were a lot less impressive than expected. Left wanting more and with a lot of sauce to mop up and not enough naan to do it with, it's a low-ish 6/10 for Curry.
Our waiter was a warm and friendly chap, attentive but chilled, in keeping with the overall atmosphere. Certainly better than average and with no delays or mishaps it's a solid 8 out of 10.
Value for money
As my opening paragraph alludes to, getting a high value for money mark was going to be a challenge for Lucknow 49 with so many good quality, low priced options out there. Whilst not unreasonably high for the location and quality, prices of £16 for a curry are relatively toppy. No doubt a lot of love and attention went into the plates on offer, but the curries were a bit of a let down for the overall price of £180 between four.
The starters were, nevertheless, good value and the bottle of red we had was decent even if it was £29. The restaurant was also very pleasant providing a relaxed and enjoyable dining experience. Therefore, it nets out at a steady 7/10 for value.
Lucknow 49 didn't quite live up to the high expectations I had, despite quality being a consistent theme throughout its dishes. The meat, in particular, the lamb chops, was perfectly cooked, but the curries were a little over engineered and lacking as a result.
The overall experience was still a very enjoyable one and Lucknow 49 still finds a place towards the top of our leaderboard, aided by good Venue and Service scores. However, if looking for a slightly more refined curry experience in this part of London I would recommend Darjeeling Express instead.
Address: 49 Maddox St, Mayfair, London W1S 2PQ
Alcohol Policy: Licensed
Summary: Stylish Indian with limited menu in Mayfair's curry strip on Maddox Street