The modern Indian food scene heats up with this branch launching from India. It's an exciting time around Christmas and NY and perfect for a celebratory meal to welcome 2019. The location is an easy walk from Piccadilly circus and along the main road for some royal atmosphere too. They must be paying a lot for rent.
The cocktail list is quite unusual. There's 12 based upon ayuverdic principles. I'm not sure how evidenced that is, but with one using saffron gin and another mezcal and beetroot, there's some unusual combinations there.
For this 50% soft opening night, they didn't have the razor clams, oysters or sea bass available. Additionally they had run out of the goat shoulder and shawarma biryani, both the dishes I was looking most forward to. Oh well. Next time then.
- Pani poori (coriander water, buttermilk, tamarind) £5 - 4 crisp shells served with a mix of sauces. I liked the coriander water best, although added all 3 into my shell. It did mean that whatever was inside the shell lost its identity;
- Chicken wings (masala rub) £6 - delicious wings heavily spiced and cooked nicely. So good we ordered a second plate;
- Madras pepper prawns £8 - similarly heavily spiced marinade on crunchy prawn flesh and served with a yoghurt and some kind of dust I couldn't determine. So good we ordered seconds. The first serve had 3, the second serve had 4. A bit odd;
- Tuna ceviche (Bengal jhal moorie) £9 - tuna with lime juice, some small herbs and a crisp puffed rice salad. The only fresh dish we ordered and added some good contrast with its more refined flavour;
- Braised lamb chops (maple & kokum glaze) £14 - the maple in the name should have given away the flavour being unusually sweet. It was certainly nice. However the chops were cooked beyond medium and so the tenderness wasn't there;
- Grills of the day £40 - pork belly tikka (murraba glaze) that was slightly sweet but a bit too fatty, grainy mustard salmon tikka (kasundi mint cream) from a kebab was soft and lovely, wagyu seekh kebab (kachumber salad) with earthy spices and a grainy texture of the mince. Looking at the photos online, the serve of each is smaller than getting the dish alone. So you are paying for the variety really and not getting a discount for ordering 3;
- Veal 'osso bucco' Ishtu (dhaniya kulcha) £16 - soft medallions in a rice curry sauce;
- A small nan came out (I think part of the veal dish) and although tiny, it was supple, soft, seasoned and excellent. I should get more next time;
- Grilled baby back ribs (rogan josh) £18 - tender ribs with meat falling from the bone;
- Jhol chicken tangri biryani £16 - served dum style with a soft pastry shell belying a moist heavily spiced biryani and 2 chicken legs. It was delicious and one of the best I've had. Some on the table prefer a lighter drier form, but this was good for me.
4 of us were stuffed after this. But dessert time.
- Rasmalai 'marshmallow', tres leches £7;
- Laddoo, shell, coconut mousse, berries £7 - this bright white chocolate sphere surprised me as I don't like white chocolate. But the contrast of berries inside and around made it rich and tart and delicious;
- Chocolate forest £7.
With all the food, I got a bit food weary toward the end. Which is why the latter dishes (particularly the desserts) have much less memory.
But with the chicken wings, prawns and biryani, and my desire for the goat shoulder and shawarma biryani, there's a lot to entice me to come back.
The competition heats up between Dishoom, Hoppers, Kricket and Gunpowder. All the restaurants have great dishes. For the overall meal, I think Farzi has pipped them all. Let's see next how Indian Accent and Brigadiers is.
After the first wonderful experience, I requested to go back. Luckily they would have me and for a delicious (early) meal before walking to see Witness For The Prosecution, I found myself at a nice booth enjoying the food all over again.
The prawns numbered 3 this time (for 4 people). I don't know what to make of that, but so be it.
- Butter chicken bao (green chilli mayo) £7 – sliders rather than baos although made with soft bread and a mild butter chicken. Nice but not particularly worth getting;
- Tandoori goat shoulder (khamiri kulcha) £19 – excellent meat that surprised me in that it looked darkened and charred but didn’t have any of that texture, All the meat was soft and beautifully flavoured. The sauce underneath was strongly flavoured goat stock and yoghurt, and tasted exactly that way. Really good. It was served with a strong garlic dipping sauce;
- Venison irrachi pepper fry (Malabari parantha) £16 – heavily flavoured and seasoned like a meat curry and served with wispy roti. The meat didn’t have much game flavour, but could be detected under the heavy sauce;
- Shawarma biryani £17 – I expected a dum pie crust similar to the chicken one, but ended up with a skewer of nice mutton on top of a circle disk of biryani (less because the bass of the skewer is hidden in there). It was nice overall, but I do think the chicken is better, and comes with much more biryani, without an inferior meat component.
- Srikhand 'air' cheesecake (mango coulis) £7 – very light and smooth, and perfect cheesecake flavour.
This reinforced my high regard for Farzi and also which dishes I should select when paying full price.