Next Tuesday, one of this year’s more eagerly anticipated restaurants will open on Maddox Street in Mayfair. Lucknow 49 — which has quietly changed its name from Lucknow Social following a trademark dispute initiated by restaurateur Jason Atherton’s Social Company — is the second restaurant from ex-Fat Duck chef, Dhruv Mittal and the team behind the lauded Hyderabadi biryani restaurant Dum in Soho.
Lucknow 49 — at number 49 — which joins two other recently opened high-profile Indian restaurants on Maddox Street, is aiming to set itself apart not merely from its neighbours but from every other Indian restaurant, anywhere in London. It is thought it will be the first in the city to specialise in the culinary legacy of the Mughal (Persian-Turkic) empire: a distinctly aromatic cuisine native to the northern city of Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh, which is also sometimes referred to as Awadhi. (Awadh is the state in which Lucknow was the capital city during the Mughal rule.)
Mittal, who has “travelled extensively throughout India, honing his skills and knowledge of regional cuisine along the way,” hopes the new opening will reflect the time he spent across Uttar Pradesh and specifically in Lucknow. Mittal also told Eater that the positioning of the restaurant from a pricing perspective will be new (to the big-money neighbourhood), too. “We’re disrupting Mayfair by bringing casual dining into a place where everyone pays over £70 for any meal. People are starved for everyday comfort food that’s accessible,” he said. The aim is for the average spend to be in the region of £30 to £35 per head.
At lunchtime, the restaurant will offer a street snack commonly found in Lucknow: the (beef) galawati kawab, which is said to have been originally invented as a “special request by a toothless King of Lucknow,” — an “extra-tender kawab known for its silky texture.” It is made with minced beef and over 50 dry spices, which are pounded then fried.
At dinner Mittal has collaborated with his executive chef, Irfan Khan (the nephew of Imtiyaz Qureshi of the famous luxury group ITC Bukhara) on the following items:
- Lamb kakori kebab spiked with clove, black pepper, and cinnamon, grilled over coals;
- Mittal’s fragrant biryanis will move across from Dum, including an Awadhi goat biryani flavoured with saffron, rose water, screw pine essence, and a perfume made with the roots of several flowers and seeds; alongside vegetable biryani using cauliflower, carrot, green beans and chillies.
- Lucknow’s slow-cooked curries include chicken korma, with saffron and “just a hint of spice”; and taar gosht (“sticky lamb”), “a specialty of Lucknow’s royal kitchens,” — a spice-marinated lamb leg rendered for several hours to create a thick sauce.
- Gilafi kulchas — thought by some to be the finest of all Indian breads — will be available, too.
- Sides will include moong makhani dal, pickled lacha onion, and homemade coriander chutney. The dessert menu will include a makhan malai (buttercream) with almonds, rose petals, and silver leaf (cos, Mayfair-casual), as well as a traditional aminabad kulfi.
Mittal said: “Awadhi cooking is a slow process, with most dishes taking days to prepare — it’s a real labour of love. Spending time cooking in Agra and travelling around Lucknow, I was blown away by its multi-layered flavours and cooking techniques. I’m looking forward to bringing this style of cooking to Lucknow 49 and creating an escape where people can gather to socialise over a North Indian feast.”
Check back for a first-look next week.