Despite what Citymapper and your childhood lollipop lady might have told you, getting lost isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Think about it. Would you ever have found that candlelit bar in Budapest if you were able to read Hungarian direction posts? And if you weren’t so drunk on that Tuesday night you got lost in Docklands, you never would have spent that £80 on an Uber and - okay, that time was just bad. But sometimes, getting lost leads to great things.
Lucknow 49 is a modern but cosy Indian restaurant in Mayfair that seems to have gotten lost. Not metaphorically lost but physically lost. It’s as if this spot was on its way to Soho, ran out of data, got on the wrong bus, and thought ‘fuck it, might as well stay in Mayfair’. There are more patterned colourful cushions than people. The food is affordable and far from fussy. And the walls are covered in the kind of bright, floral 70s wallpaper that could set your aunt’s Bloom and Wild addiction off again. The fact that you’re in a postcode where Prets are outnumbered by billionaires isn’t obvious at all. And we like that.
Once you’ve finished playing your first round of ‘if I was wasted which cushion would I steal’ - ideally over a gin and ginger - you can get down to ordering. Their compact menu of Awadhi dishes is split into starters, curries, biryanis, and sides, and you should get involved in all of them, especially the starters. Dipping some kulcha in the saffron and cream tikka is a thing of beauty. And by the time you’ve finished the rice and lentil dumplings you’ll undoubtedly have checked to see whether you can add four kilos of tamarind to your Tesco order before tomorrow.
The curries and biryanis are a bit more subtle. Think of the mains here as the taste equivalent of watching Atonement, or showing your true personality to that person you just started dating. There are big flavours going on but it’s all about the slow reveal. Mouthful one: okay, we can definitely taste the cumin, and goat, and maybe a little yoghurt. Mouthful three: oh hang on, now there’s onion. Is the yoghurt sweet? Mouthful seven: cashew nuts, definitely cashew nuts. And on it’ll go, whether you’re eating the gosht raan masala or the excellent paneer kofta.
Some hints that you’re in an area that has a higher demand for gold foil face masks than the national average do remain at Lucknow 49. There are four champagnes on their very short wine list, some of the servers will pounce to fill up your water glass like you’re incapable of raising your hand above your elbow, and you’re likely to see more than one group of shoppers armed with Burberry bags stop and inspect the menu outside before decidedly walking off to Sketch. But really none of those things matter. Because whether you catch up over lamb kawabs by the window or have an affordable date night surrounded by countless cushions, or a chilled business lunch involving lamb chops, you’re bound to have a pretty nice time. Even if you only ended up here because you got lost.
Sweet yoghurt, lentil stuffed flatbread, lentil and rice dumplings, pomegranate, and coriander chutney. Tick, tick, tick, tick. The combination of all of them? Absolute must-order.
Some tender smokey chicken with a solid hit of saffron and cream. What’s not to like?
According to the menu these little soft patties were made for a toothless nawab. According to us, they’re tasty and worth ordering for the sauce alone.
Not the best lamb chops in London. Not the third best lamb chops in London either. They’re fine. Next.
At £14, this is one of the more expensive things here. But dip a little nan in the cashew nut heavy sauce and you’ve got yourself a party. Plus, it’s one of the main options on their lunch and early bird set menu which is three courses for £25.
The cottage cheese underdog of dumplings. We’re very into these, and the yoghurt and brown onion gravy is lick-clean level tasty.
A perfectly nice biryani. We probably wouldn’t want to come here and eat just this, but it’s good for sharing. Also, shoutout to the saffron.
As first we thought, ‘huh, we’d like a little more for six pounds please’. But we were wrong. There, we said it. The milk is sweet, the rice is filling, and the piece of mango you get is the perfect serving. A really nice way to finish a meal.