I don’t think they saw it coming! In fact, I’m pretty sure they didn’t! A group of 10 foodies descended upon Farzi Cafe for lunch. 10 vegetarians!!! Well, technically, there were two carnivores in the group and they did order a couple of non-vegetarian dishes but we’ll just discount that bit.
A lot has been said and written about Farzi Café. At the risk of repeating the obvious, it has clearly given our city of Bengaluru something to rave about with its quirky creations, attentive and responsive service, and its uber cool ambience. I won’t write about the ambience, décor etc because I’m not really keen on observing such intricacies so let’s jump straight into the interesting and important part: The Food!!!
What I went gaga about:
Vada Pav Farzified (Appetizer): The hugely popular Mumbai snack was given a new avatar by Farzi Café by stuffing the Pav inside the Vada rather than the other way round. The flavour of the ‘batata’ vada remained fiercely loyal to its Mumbai cousin. The balance of flavours were simply perfect with the fried chilly giving the vada a nice jolt (which made me smile rather than grimace). And it was such a pleasing sight to see the ‘kanda-lahsun’ powder in sprinkled in abundance. That we ended up ordering 3 portions is testimony that this was the most loved dish.
Tandoori Margherita Kulchas with Bloody Mary Ketchup (Appetizer): I had this at the launch, and was raring to have a go at it again. As they arrived, I couldn’t help but notice how beautifully the Kulchas were baked. Molten cheese oozes out as you take a bite. The slightly sweet & spicy Bloody Mary ketchup pairs perfectly with the slightly sour cheese. I will go back for this repeatedly.
Pine nuts and Scallions ‘Paddu-Yaki’ (Appetizer): When a locally popular dish is served at a place like Farzi, it tends to evoke reactions such as ‘oh, I can make it better at home’. Sure, there’s no disputing that there may be better paddus out there, but that doesn’t take away anything from how good the paddu is at Farzi. They were crisp on the outside and soft on the inside- just as they’re meant to be. The nuttiness and crunch of the pine nuts and the rustic flavour of the scallions took the preparation to a different level. The tomato based ‘accompaniment’, however, didn’t find much favour with me. It lacked spice and substance to the already flavourful Paddu.
Ratatouille Bhaji with Maska Pav (Main Course): The pick of the dishes in the main course was a unique concoction of French Ratatouille and Mumbai Pav Bhaji. The blended flavours were so good that the top notes that hit you initially scream ratatouille but the very next second you say ‘no’ Pav bhaji. The flavours are cleverly mixed to give you a lasting experience of both. When sered with the Pav Maska, it is an excellent creation.
Kasundhi Paneer Tikka (Appetizer): Soft chunks of paneer marinated in a mustard dressing. Usually, I’m a bit wary of mustard based dressing sas there is very little margin for error. Too little and the mustard flavour fails to make an impact; too much of it and the pungency can completely destroy the rest of the flavours. The flavour was so well balanced that the mango pickle cream was redundant. The Pickle cream, however, was quite tasty.
What was okay:
Upma Mozzarella bites with Puli Ingi (Appetizer): The reason this didn’t make it to the above list is because a) The bites per se were hardly anything to write home about unless you actually dipped it into the puli ingi. The Puli Ingi was the star of the show. It was tangy and spicy accompaniment can easily evoke a sense of authenticity amongst even the most hard core South Indian.
Tandoori Gucchi Risotto (Main Course): The reason why this was okay is probably more to do with my sense of bias than anything else. Look, I’ve had an authentic Italian Risotto with Morels with truffle oil drizzled on top, and it was one of the best Italian dishes I ever had. So, when I helped myself to Farzi Café’s version, the purist in me rejected it. If you’re not as much of a purist, you might enjoy the Risotto. It’s actually pretty well made and quite filling.
Baked Egg Curry and Masala Poha (Main Course): The baked Egg was served along with a spicy curry and some masala poha. All three together made the dish decent in terms of its taste but it did not evoke a sense of satisfaction. The Poha on its own was very tasty, though, as was the egg and the curry. I would have loved to have some mini paranthas with it.
What we did not like (at all):
The Pumpkin and Coconut Khowsuey: A clear no-no. The ‘curry’ of the khowsuey lacked flavour, volume and spice. It was just like having spiced coconut milk. Irrespective of whether or not you love the original version of Burmese Khowsuey, this dish is a total disappointment.
Rajasthani Kadhi and Ghee Pulao: After all the excellent and eccentric food we tried out, it kinda baffled me as to how they got this dish so horribly wrong. My guess is that the chef forgot that he/she had already added methi and went in for a double dose. There was no other flavour other than methi and the kadhi was way too salty for my liking. The ghee rice too was quite pedestrian. We didn’t bother complaining as we were running out of time.
We tried their Bailey’s Irish Cream pops. They were decent. The desserts were alluring but we just didn’t have any more space in our tummies.
A couple of noteworthy mentions: The first being, just before you make the switch from Appetizers to main course, you are served some delicious yoghurt and churan lollipop as a palate cleanser. Worked very well for me! The second was the paan ‘cotton candy’ served just as we were about to leave. My suggestion: Don’t leave without it.
A word about the service: Being the latest hotspot in town, Farzi Café will continue to draw patrons in hordes. This means that we will all have to put up with the occasional lapses in service. I’m not going to be overly critical about their service levels. They more than make it up to you with their enthusiasm and a genuine willingness to serve.
We paid Rs.10,500 (all inclusive) for 10 of us which is a tad above Rs.1000 per person. There’s a lot more to try out on the menu and I sure will be going back there again. Soon!