Farzi Café - Indian Food with a Twist

As an eternal fan of Indian cuisine, it is with glee that on a recent night out I find myself in the middle of ‘theatre-land’ on my way to Farzi Café, a contemporary pan-Indian restaurant, in Haymarket.

I am somewhat taken aback to have read previously mixed reviews, some of which speak of unnecessary gimmickry and the ‘anglicising’ of certain dishes, such as a tikka masala served in a miniature red phone box. Of course, I cannot critique Farzi on its previous incarnation or menus, but what I can attest to is the Farzi Café we encounter on my recent visit. It is quite simply one of the most charming, sleek and modern Indian restaurants we have dined in, with a flair for chic, dramatic presentation (befitting of its location), and mouth-wateringly tasty food. So, no matter what has gone before, Farzi has now very much found its feet, and the ‘Farzifying’ of dishes has seemingly been honed with great success to create this wonderful Indian bistro.

Upon being seated by friendly, smart staff, we take in the interior; the smart bar with touches of bold brass, the blue velvet seating and stylish convivial lighting all make for an eye catching venue. We peruse the impressive cocktail menu and decide to experience a ‘Farzified’ classic as an opener for our evening here. We order the Farzi Club, a delicate gin cocktail utilising raspberries, clarified grapefruit, citrus and black raspberry foam to great effect. Delicious. We are now set for an evening of culinary delights courtesy of brand new Chef Dhwani Agarwal.

There are very reasonably priced set menus, but we decide to go à la carte, as there are certain dishes we decide we simply must try on this occasion. So, for starters we plump for the Butter Chicken Baos and the Manglorian Rava Fried Prawns. The Baos are melt in your mouth delectable and the presentation of the prawns is fantastic, with subtle spice sprinkled like golden stardust on the plate around them.

We decide on the Garlic Masala Rib Eye Steak and the Chicken Tikka Masala for our mains. Both dishes are absolute winners. The steak is cooked perfectly, the mustard and tamarind glaze drizzled on it adding a sweet and tangy touch to a classic bistro dish, the mixed greens an ideal al dente accompaniment. The Chicken Tikka Masala, another perennial classic, is served smartly in a bowl, adorned with flowers, and is faultless (not a phone box in sight). The chicken deliciously tender and the sauce, buttery contentment itself. Other highlights from the new menu include – Lobster & Coconut Risotto and Butternut Squash Gatta Curry – crispy squash gnocchi, Rajasthani kadhi with pickled orzo, and Aburi Salmon – flamed salmon, orange glaze, Granny Smith apple and coconut milk, topped with Ikura & herb oil.  These can be accompanied with tapas-style small dishes like Avocado Tokri Basket , a waffle basket with avocado chat, raw mango carpaccio and lemon air, along with a Dal Chawal Arancini.

We are replete after our main course but under advisement of our friendly waiter, we are gently encouraged to try dessert. I order the Chocolate Roulade and my partner the Pistachio Tres Leche. Again, the presentation is excellent and somewhat theatrical; the roulade set on a plate with dry ice in a bowl underneath it; the crisp chocolate tube is filled with mousse accompanied by chocolate sponge encased in a white chocolate cage, the slight sharpness of the raspberry sorbet complementing it all superbly.

With a range of menus including pre-theatre and tasting menus, there is something for everyone here. Highlights from the new menu include – Lobster & Coconut Risotto, Butternut Squash Gatta Curry – crispy squash gnocchi, Rajasthani kadhi with pickled orzo and Aburi Salmon – flamed salmon, orange glaze, Granny Smith and coconut milk, topped with Ikura and herb oil.

Full of rich flavours and Indian fusions, the menu will be accompanied with tapas-style small dishes – Avocado Tokri Basket – waffle basket with avocado chat, raw mango carpaccio and lemon air and Dal Chawal Arancini.

All these can be enjoyed with Farzi’s playful astrology-themed cocktail menu, influenced by India’s rich Ayurvedic past, featuring the 12 zodiac signs.

Farzi Café, 8 Haymarket, SW1Y 4BP,  farzilondon.com