What's the draw?
As the second restaurant from Dhruv Mittal (owner of Soho's DUM Biryani), Lucknow 49's arrival in Mayfair means yet another cracking Indian restaurant has been added to West London's already bursting roster. That being said, Lucknow 49 can hold its head high among that crowd, thanks primarily to its relaxed ambience, heavily cushioned interior and array of excellent regional Indian dishes. The restaurant specialises in Lucknowi cuisine: a type of food developed in North India's Awadhi region. The rich style of cooking – think fragrant spiced kebabs and karahis full of languidly slow-cooked meat – is said to have been inspired by the dishes served to the Mughal kings (insert clichéd line about "eating like a king" here).
What to drink?
Whatever takes your fancy, really, as Lucknow's cocktails and beers are both deft options. The Badtameez Ale is brewed by Hackney Brewery especially for the restaurant – it's a lightly spiced beer that gives way to a moreish and lingering sweetness after on the palate. Want something a bit more punchy? Go for the Bhavbini – Lucknow 49's house negroni with Jaisalmer gin, artichoke liqueur, sweet vermouth and chai bitters. Need something flashy for the 'gram? You're going to want the Bidi, a tidy concoction of FAIR rum, tobacco liqueur, pear and cinnamon, amply smoked with a vanilla cigar. The cocktail arrives shrouded by a pashmina of smoke under a glass cloche that's unsheathed on the table in front of you. While it smells like a pocket of Amber Leaf, it's actually rather smooth to the taste.
What to eat?
Start with the galawat kawab, and thank us later. These lamb patties, flavoured with more than 50 spices, were said to have been designed for a toothless nawab – that means the fragrant kebabs aren't just falling apart, they're having a full-on breakdown, sobbing in your bathtub with a bottle of Smirnoff as you bang on the door. We'd suggest giving your lamb some company with a portion of taar gosht, a lamb leg that's been simmered in trotter stock for 12 hours. It's a sticky and unctuous parcel of meat, coddled in an excellent hennaed pool of gravy that bursts with notes of cardamom, ginger, turmeric and cumin. The murgh qorma (a chicken thigh slow cooked in brown onion and cashew sauce) is another cracker – a real MA student of the game that's been blessed with an assortment of spices outside the overwhelming swat of fenugreek you'd get from an inferior korma.
When it comes to the non-meat dishes, the aloo tikki channa chaat (potato and green chilli patties spiced with coriander) are addictive introductions to the menu. We could easily eat six more in a sitting, and the only reason we don't is so we can ensure we've got room for more of what's to come. That "more" includes moong dal makhani; an absolutely business side that makes thick and fast friends with a handkerchief of pliable filafi kulcha. The kammal kakdi raita is another welcome addition as the refreshing and tart yoghurt comes with added hunks of lotus root for a textural crunch. We finish our dinner with a rasmalai milk cake: this delicious condensed milk compact disc comes with a vibrant slash of Alphonso mango and, yes, while it does taste a little Rusk-y, we'd hardly complain about being spoon-fed it for eternity.
Mains from £12; cocktails from £8. 49 Maddox Street, W1S 2PQ; lucknowldn.com