Our guest food writer Adrienne Fung is back with a shiny new review of the revamped menu at Farzi Café in Haymarket, curated by Chef Dhwani Agarwal (formerly at Kanishka). The pan-Indian restaurant in London offers classics from all around India, that are full of flavours and with a modern twist.
Farzi Café in the heart of Haymarket brings vibrant modern Indian cuisine to the center of London. Started by Indian restaurateur and host of MasterChef India Season 5, Zorawar Kalra, Farzi joins a successful company of 26 restaurants across 8 different countries (Massive Restaurants Group).
While London is not short of great, authentic Indian food, Farzi Café boasts a strong cocktail game too. Upon arriving for a relatively early dinner, the place was already packed with a mixed crowd of pre-theater goers, solo diners, and larger groups gathering to celebrate. Farzi attracts an eclectic crowd of both locals and tourists, fitting to its destination being steps away from the iconic Piccadilly Circus.
Farzi Café’s interior space is trendy and modern, filled with low-lit lighting, contemporary furniture and gold accents. Music and chatter drown the room with sound and a bit of buzz. The focal point of the restaurant is an impressive bar, generously shelved with an expansive array of bottles to ensure all patrons are made aware that the drinks are equally important here.
We started the evening with a few of their specialty cocktails. The cocktails were thoughtfully made and beautifully presented. The flavours were balanced, and the drinks were nicely chilled. I enjoyed the Farzi Royale which had Belvedere infused elderflower, Brut champagne and Chambord. A sweet, sparkly start to the meal.
The food menu consists of small plates, bao & paos, roast & grills, mains, biryani & pulao, and sides. With a wealth of options to choose from, it was challenging to narrow down our list. Luckily, we got a few recommendations from our waiter and settled on the Chicken Karaage and Grilled Jumbo Tiger Prawn to start.
The chicken karaage was served with a chilli yoghurt emulsion, purple potato, herb dust and puffed wild rice. Certainly not your standard plate of fried chicken with elevated tweaks to make the dish its own. The chicken was tender and lightly fried. The chilli yoghurt emulsion that accompanied was spicy and delicious. The jumbo tiger prawn was perhaps our favourite of the two. Coated in nigella garlic butter and served with a side of “desi pesto”, the flavours were punchy and bold. There’s always a slight fear when ordering grilled prawns that they’re overcooked and rubbery, but this was grilled perfectly. The prawn was sweet and juicy with a bit of smokiness from the grill adding a nice contrast.
For our mains, we went for the Chicken Tikka Masala and the Lobster Moilee Risotto, which both came highly recommended. To accompany our mains, we got a bowl of their double butter Dal Makhani and Garlic Naan.
The chicken tikka masala was one of the best I’ve had in London. The sauce was rich, decadent and aromatic. I could understand why our server said this was a must-order item. The garlic naan which was equally well executed made for the perfect vehicle to mop up the sauce. I loved how crisp and buttery the naan was. Not all naans are made equal, and this was one of the better versions I’ve stumbled upon. I appreciated that the surface got an even coating of garlic butter in every bite.
The dal makhani was also super tasty, but how could anything made with “double butter” not be? The lobster moilee risotto on the other hand was our least favourite dish of the night. While the lobster was grilled beautifully, the risotto was quite dense and bit on the mushy side. Had it been a bit lighter and the risotto cooked more al-dente, it would have been quite enjoyable as the flavours were nice overall.
To end the meal, we shared the Shrikhand Mille-feuille. Layers of saffron and pistachio flavoured yoghurt sandwiched in between layers of puff pastry and then served with a side of almond ice cream. We liked that the dessert wasn’t overly sweet, with the tangy yoghurt balancing out the sweetness from the almond ice cream. The light, crunchy layers of puff pastry gave the dessert a welcomed textural component.
We really enjoyed our meal at Farzi Café which definitely takes some adventurous risks, deviating from the classics. With that being said, some of the more classic dishes like chicken tikka masala and dal makhani were our favourites of the evening. They have mastered modern Indian cuisine, offering a breadth of creative dishes across their menu. We also appreciated the attention paid to the cocktails which explains why some guests at the bar were only there for drinks.
Farzi Café is a great spot to go if you’re in the area, but want to avoid a tourist trap restaurant. The chic space also makes for a good dinner party option when looking to book for a bigger group outing.