While it would be incorrect to argue that most of the Indian subcontinent’s meals are brown, it’s clear to see how a meal at Lucknow forty-nine, the second London organization from chef Dhruv Mittal, might make you attain that end. It’s a parade of dishes which, on a coloration chart, might run the gamut from “dark earth” via “silted river bed” all of the manners to “plowed field.” Personally, I have no trouble with brown food; some of the maximum excessive, strident dishes I actually have ever eaten had been brown. In cooking, caramelization is your buddy, and caramel is brown. Others feel otherwise. This may additionally explain why, half of the way thru dinner, I locate myself watching a lightly sauced cauliflower, dressed with a skinny scab of shimmering silver leaf.
Some will protest that valuable metals as meal ornament are cultural aspects, with a venerable record in Indian cookery. But I’m now not in India. I’m on Maddox Street on the threshold of London’s Mayfair, in which there’s already too much unnecessary gilding. I wouldn’t say I like ingesting matters which serve no dietary purpose. I wouldn’t say I like ingesting things that might be destined to tour straight through me so that the product at the alternative gives up turns out so glittery you could grasp it on a Christmas tree if, say, Tim Burton becomes in charge of the decorations.
Apart from offering the opportunity to make poo jokes in an eating place assessment – by no means to be missed – there’s a more serious point right here. How will we examine a restaurant like this, where the large bill definitely pays for things like a silver leaf on the cauliflower, which doesn’t have anything to do with the meals? For a start, Lucknow 49 is a very comfy restaurant, actually so. The upholstered bench seating is stacked with throw cushions and bolsters – such a lot of, indeed, that I have to chuck a few off to create a space in which to wriggle my full-size arse. There is olive inexperienced paintwork and what looks like a hand-published ornament around the archway into the returned-eating room and blocky floral prints. It’s a self-conscious take on the home, the sort of cozy fashion that expenses right cash. Accordingly, the most inexpensive wine bottle is £29 for something drinkable, the call of which I can’t do forget, and the dinner invoice for 2 will, without difficulty, smash £one hundred thirty.
Let’s prevent there for a moment. The reality that you can go to a serviceable high-road curry house and pay buttons for indeterminate animal protein batch-cooked in a sparkling sauce, to repeat on you for days, does no longer imply food from the Indian tradition must in no way cost as a great deal as that from France, Italy or Japan. If you trust that, you are dismissing the whole Indian lifestyle as somehow inferior. You will want to have a long hard talk with yourself.
The food wishes to be really worth it. At Lucknow forty-nine, some of it quite a good deal is, and a number of it clearly isn’t. (The £nine paratha wraps stuffed with grilled lamb for takeaway at lunchtime may be the nice deal). It all comes with a compelling narrative: after the Mughal empire’s fall, the royal family and their chefs shifted from Delhi to Lucknow. The double lamb chops here, cooked over charcoal, are big, meaty beasts, with a quality char, hot, crisped fat, and the growing fragrance of newly roasted spices—the lucky royal circle of relatives. The online menu indicates them to be £12.50 for two, which is the right cost for this quantity and high-quality meat. I expect it became too much cost, due to the fact on the eating place these high-quality chops are surely £sixteen. There are some examples of this, which a polite character would describe as unlucky. The menu has been updated, seeing that my go-to.