Following their success across both India and Dubai, Farzi Cafe has now come to London and taken up a location at Haymarket. It is actually located right by the Haymarket theatre, making it quite an ideal spot for a pre-theatre meal. Similar to its international counterparts, Farzi Cafe features a snazzy and glitzy interior and a vibrant buzzing dining atmosphere. Upon arrival, you’d find a doorman standing at the front, greeting you and opening the door for you to the restaurant. The restaurant premise spans two floors. To my personal interpretation, the upper floor felt a little more glamorous in terms of decor, while the lower floor got more of a modern luxury industrial vibe to it. We were seated on the lower level for this occasion.
Farzi Cafe: an Avant-Garde Indian Restaurant
The word “farzi” actually means fake in Urdu. However, in this context, the word “fake” actually means bringing an unusual modern interpretation of Indian cuisine. The way they eloquently describe their restaurant concept is “a vision of bringing Indian Cuisine back “in-Vogue”. In other words, it’s all about bold experimental ideas with cutting edge flavours and being unique from traditional Indian restaurants. Opening up their menu, you’d see many familiar Indian dishes as the base concept, but comes with all sorts of other unique fusion flavouring combo and ingredients. All meats are halal at Farzi Cafe, except any pork dishes which are strictly handled separately in the kitchen. Alcohol is also served at the restaurant.
The Food: What We Ordered
Date of dining: February 2019
Udupi Paneer Popcorn (£5)
To start, we ordered the paneer popcorn. The dish was quite small, to be honest. It seemed more of a nibble to accompany drinks rather than an actual starter dish. Anyway, in terms of flavours, I felt it was a tad bit underwhelming. The paneer itself didn’t present much flavour to it and was slightly bland. Nevertheless, the coating was really crispy and the sauce on the side saved the dish.
Ground Beef Scotch Eggs (£10)
Seeing a halal option of scotch eggs, we’re keen as a bean to try this out – and it certainly didn’t disappoint! The scotch egg was tremendously crispy on the outside and flavourful. Beneath that crispy layer was a layer of beautifully seasoned ground beef, enveloping an egg with the perfect runny yolk. All in all, the dish was simply superb and no doubt the highlight of the evening for us.
Braised Lamb Chops (£15)
Next up is the Braised Lamb Chops, which come with a maple and fennel glaze, and are elegantly plated. These lamb chops were as beautiful as they looked. They were really tender and saucy, with a tinge of addictive sweetness. I wished there were bigger and thicker, but we were really content with these ones.
Veal ‘osso bucco’ Ishtu (£16)
I love a good Osso Bucco and was really anticipating this dish. A very rich gravy was poured into the dish upon serving. Flavour-wise it was really savoury – unfortunately perhaps a little bit too overwhelming after a while and definitely needed some bread to soak it up a bit. It did come with some naan but we ordered an extra bread basket as well. The meat was generally tender and there was a good amount of bone marrow in there which was a delight. All in all, this dish left a slightly mixed impression but it wasn’t too bad overall.
Shawarma Biryani (£19)
This certainly isn’t your typical biryani. As you can see from the picture, this biryani is served with a “tower” of shawarma at the centre over a bed of rice. A little quirky presentation aside, overall, we felt the dish was rather mediocre. It was savoury and the meat was moist to taste against the rich gravy. However, the flavours were very one-dimensional and lacked a layered tease and palatable punch. Perhaps I was expecting to be blown away by the unique concept of flavours but it didn’t quite deliver, unfortunately.
Restaurant Review Summary
To conclude, our meal at Farzi Cafe had been decent but I wouldn’t call it a particularly exceptional one. Ultimately, we felt it was slightly a hit-and-miss with the dishes. For instance, the Beef Scotch Egg was truly outstanding, but the other dishes were more on a mediocre scale. Personally, I liked the contemporary concept and incorporation of fusion ideas into traditional Indian dishes. But still, I felt it was missing that robust touch from traditional Indian cuisine, which should’ve been the core of the food. For a restaurant that claims so much on boldness, unfortunately, the food didn’t match up to that.
If you are out and about in Soho/West End, it’s certainly a dining option in the area but it’s not a particularly memorable restaurant, in my opinion, and not quite worth the hype. Have you been to Farzi Cafe? Let us know what your thoughts are!
Summary & Halal Status
A unique avant-garde Indian restaurant concept but falling flat on flavours.
All meats are halal at Farzi Cafe, except any pork dishes which are strictly handled separately in the kitchen. Alcohol is served at the restaurant.
Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus