We’re expecting something big and brash from Farzi Cafe, the first London tentacle for the Massive Restaurants group.
In Urdu ‘farzi’ means something falsified, faked. Something convincing at surface level only. And this spot has put a hell of a lot of effort into the surface level. There’s enough bling and polish, enough ornately garnished cocktails and Instagram-courting corners — and a menu subsection announced by its own #Farzification hashtag — to give off a strong vibe of ebullient glitz over substance.
Service comes in a friendly jumble, bouncing between knowledgeable and nonchalant. Our food comes at a fast hurtle, plates not quite fitting on the small table. The bread’s the exception, turning up two thirds of the way through the food, when most of the sauces and scoopable things are just smears and memories.
And our question about how many dishes to order is met with a cheerfully vague, ‘depends on which ones you order’. Okay, cool. Utterly true. It makes ordering more of a game show that we don’t know the rules to than any dinner strictly needs to be, but we end up roughly with the right amount. And the right dishes: first prize in this game show goes to anybody with the Tandoori goat shoulder sitting in front of them, or the smoked aubergine bharta.
Because for all the carefree flashiness to the delivery, the food’s precise, and exuberant, and unfailingly bang on. The goat shoulder curry with cumin puff is all light fragrance and rich gaminess. That and the smoked aubergine bharta are the stand-outs, but every menu subsection we veer into is delivering on its showy strut: butter chicken bao with green chilli mayo are fluffy and chewy, rich and hot in layers; naga pork in miso bean paste has the sticky sweetness of BBQ ribs but with a deep burr of umami underneath.
So it’s mixed messages here. Farzi Cafe’s menu claims ‘unapologetic authenticity’. It’s definitely the former. As for the latter — you’d have to squint to see it, and hard. But we couldn’t care less. When it comes to memorably delicious food, and some brash, glitzy good-times, Farzi Cafe’s delivering both of those in spades.
Farzi Cafe, 8 Haymarket, SW1Y 4BP.
Last Updated 24 April 2019