Rows of potted plants partly hid the glass window and the interior from prying eyes. A quaint green-panelled small-ish glass door up a flight of stairs led inside. Standing on the steps, you could make out silhouettes of books and a typewriter on a shelf. If it was not for the name Farzi Café emblazoned above the glass window, at first glance, you could mistake it for a charming curiosity shop.
Yes, the popular Indian bistro with a global presence, Farzi Café from Massive Restaurants, has finally touched down in Kolkata. The restaurant is present in London, Riyadh, Muscat, Qatar and Kuwait and is going to open soon in Bahrain, Bangladesh, Puerto Rico, Istanbul, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Rome and Canada.
The vastness of the bright interior came as a surprise as I pushed open the door; and reality struck as a staff (from her twinkling eyes, I guess she wore a warm smile underneath her mask) urged me to sanitise my hands and have my temperature checked. That done, I was ushered inside and offered a seat in one of the corner tables. The restaurant was not taking any chances with crowding and seating guests with reasonable distancing between two tables.
Daylight poured in through the glass facade while neon green, pink and yellow lights added a vibrant touch. The interiors were a mix of classic and contemporary. Focussing on the twin Kolkata characteristics – nostalgia and culture – there was a wall full of black and white photographs of the city from early to mid-20th century, the adjacent wall displayed acrylic books; terracotta danglers mingled with flower murals and dome lights; the jaali designed like gills of a fish in reminiscence of the city’s love for fish.
The restaurant was roughly divided into two parts including a circular bar. A kinetic chandelier over the bar and a kinetic wall installation consisting of moving fans – titled Hawa Aane Do – was a reminder of the city’s industrial links.
A wall towards the end is covered with rows of yellow masks, a grim reminder, and probably a warning that we cannot ignore the protocols.
The mix of classic and contemporary extends to the menu, which actually raises the bistro experience to the gourmet level. According to Zorawar Kalra, founder and managing director of Massive Restaurants, the aim is to bring Indian cuisine back ‘in vogue’.
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Hence you will find an amalgamation of global cuisine with Indian influences, including contemporising local favourites. Hence, it was fun to dig into a plate of Kasundi rawa fish with xo jhaal muri or the Farzified Tangra Chilli Chicken Roll. And don’t forget to order the Chicken Tikka Masala which is served with Cornish Cruncher Naan, the dish served in a typical London telephone booth.
A few highlights from the tapas style menu are Hass Avocado chat with beetroot gel, Dal Chawal Arancini with papad chutney, Peshawari seekh kebab with amchur butter jhol, Chutney chicken biryani with raita spheres, mutton kala bhuna with Arborio rice, etc. You may round up the meal with a Kunafa Nest with condensed milk or the Ras Malai tres leches decorated with carrot cream and rose petal nest.
“Farzi is a global brand and the menu contains some iconic dishes served in all Farzi Cafes,” said Amit Goyal, Director, Anandshreeji, who has been instrumental in bringing this brand to Kolkata. “In this restaurant, we have a few quintessential Kolkata dishes which people have been eating for decades; but these have been Farzi-fied.”
With the restaurant having obtained licence to remain open till 4am (after the pandemic regulations are eased), Goyal said they will be able to cater to people across age groups and the entire gamut of meals, from lunch to dinner to after-party.
Farzi Cafe is located in Golden Parkk (ground floor) on Ho Chi Minh Sarani, opposite Metro Plaza.
It will be operational between noon and 8pm, in keeping with pandemic regulations.