Thursday, 12 May 2016
Farzi Cafe, Lower Parel, Mumbai
We do not need to literally be royalty, but an open mind and a disposition to enjoy the finer things in life is certainly essential. Just like Masala Bar, Masala Library and Pa Pa Ya have taught us in recent times,as this comes from the same impeccable culinary extravaganza stable :)
All through last week, I heard from some of my closest colleagues, 'Have you been to Farzi Cafe yet?' and all I did was gawk at them :D I am the girl from a small town, who had her first pizza at the age of 17, first burger at the age of 18 and even today finds it difficult to distinguish between Kung Pao & Hunan sauces. No sire, I am no gourmand. I am still learning. I love food but on my own, even making a bowl of Maggi is a bit of a task. Obviously, anything with the label of 'Fine Dine' tends to scare me just a bit. Add to that 'Molecular Gastronomy' and it is terrifying. So probably it was all right that I had no plans to be at Farzi Cafe just yet.
But there are angels up there all right,looking out for me, forcing me to expand my food knowledge and so it was on a bright afternoon that I got an invite for a food tasting session at Farzi Cafe. Before I knew it, I was at the entrance of Farzi Cafe at Kamla Mills, Lower Parel, Mumbai with my sister. Walked in and got mesmerized. Geometric concrete mesh patterns on the wall that still give a rustic touch. At first glance, it looks like mud-baked walls of a stunning dhaba but look closer and the genius of design comes to fore. And that, Ladies & Gentlemen, is where the Farzi journey begins.
Farzi usually means Fake, but here it is all about illusion. Illusion in everything, from design to food. What it looks like is very different from what it IS! There is a pleasant twist to everything which is at once comforting and friendly as it is novel & unexpected, enough to keep us in awe of the masters at work.
Sit back and relax in one of the comfortable couches where the 3-D show on windows create extraordinary illusion magic or the high chairs near the beautiful bar where the bartender will make sure you never walk into another bar ever again by serving out-of-this-world concoctions! Best of 70s and 80s music is enough to make everyone want to dance like nobody is watching :) Feels like a bar, a bistro and a Fine Dine diner all at once! Service is absolutely brilliant, never faltering for a second while the dishes are each a work of wonder. True to the name and theme, every dish is a Farzified version. Original rustic Indian dishes, moulded into true global citizens with the twist of Molecular Gastronomy which is not only high on theatrics but also makes various textures and flavors pop like never before. There aren't enough words to describe the level of hospitality shown by our host for the evening Ashish as well as Chef Gaurav and every single person on the staff list. Friendly, Cheerful, On top of everything, Quick, Patiently describing the science & Sharing intimate stories behind each dish, this truly has been the most spectacular meal we had in longest time. Not to forget, we had 8 drinks, 8 starters, 4 main course dishes and 3 desserts to stuff ourselves with :D
While I am not much of an alcohol person myself, my sister enjoys her drinks and I started off by giving her company but then I realized that the drinks here are also Farzified,meaning they are twisted enough to turn even a functional teetotaler like me into a social drinker for a night :)
Farzi Apple Foamintini was sweetish with a spicy kick thanks to green apple syrup & martini topped with whipped cream foam while Chuski Margarita was dense and heavy,still that gola gave it a childish lightness. Loved them! Vodka Curry Mango Chutney with that brilliant foam made my sister swoon with tangy delight while Bottle Ka Gin was reminiscent of 'I Dream Of Genie', the show that made my childhood beautiful :) Taste wise, it was bitter for my palate but for someone with a love for strong kick, this is perfect. Not to mention, how beautiful is that pink Eiffel Tower! Chai-Paani came across as the perfect break for an evening snack, the tea distillation with Vodka kick & orange peel, served just like it is done in roadside tea stalls. Sitting in a beautiful place like this while sipping on this delightful (and strong) concoction, now this is something rare :)
My absolute favorite was Farzi Tina. It was especially concocted for a girl named Tina and now it is a favorite among many regulars at Farzi Cafe. Mostly on the sweetish side, it has just a kick of Vodka with sweetness of orange (and its peels) and bitterness of kaffir lime playing perfectly with each other :) My sister adored The Three Musketeers which has orange, chocolate syrup, spices and whiskey playing peek-a-boo with each other. Something that would be perfectly at home in James Bond's hands, this one is a treat for all senses :) Finally, I had to balance out all the alcohol so had a Litchi Aam Panna Desire, just the kind of refreshing sweet-tangy mocktail one wishes to drown in on any summer day!
Now all the foodies in the room raise your hands for it is time to have a look-over at the lip-smacking dishes. Oh but first meet the palate cleansers. Mishti Doi Amuse Bouche i.e. little balls of delightful Mishti Doi that burst in mouth is how we started our culinary journey this evening. After the starters, we had frozen Khandvi pops and the grand finale after the desserts was perfectly executed by refreshed Paan hidden in white candyfloss shaped like Gujiya :) Honestly, the kind of thought and science that has gone into making each dish, the drama that all sorts of edible chemicals (like-Soya Lecithin) bring forth, it is something to be experienced first hand and cherished. I can just say, 'There was magical vapor enveloping XYZ' but it is not until you have seen it and experienced how lovingly everyone here is creating a once-in-a-lifetime memory for you that the significance of Farzi Cafe sinks in!
Started with Dal Chawal Arancini which basically takes the humble Dal Chawal, makes little delicious balls of it the way Sicilian Arancini is, garnished with achaari mayo,served on a bed of onion tomato salsa. This is perhaps the simplest way to describe this dish as it (like every other dish) was an amalgamation of multitude textures that contrast as well as compliment each other. Same vein was established by Raj Kachori, my favorite chaat dish, which was served here with tamarind foam (which makes it much better for calorie counters) and the filling inside would compete neck to neck with the best that Rajasthan has to offer :)
One dish my sister would perhaps want to marry is Tandoori Kulcha Margherita where the Margherita Pizza is reincarnated Indian way, in the shape of a fluffy little Tandoori Kulcha filled with cheesy goodness! Nobody can eat just one. Nobody! I was equally in love with delightful Pyaaz ki Kachori and Sweet Chilli Samosas. Full of flavors, it just boggles my mind how something so small can be brimming with so many different textures and emotions at the same time!
If you are a mushroom lover just like me, do not miss Mushrooms with Truffle oil, a killer dish to look at and even better when it comes to taste, so creamy, so filling, every bite filled with mushroomy goodness without being heavy for even a second. Paneer lovers must not miss the mildly tangy Thai Paneer Tikka cubes and finish it all up with Ponganalu which my sister had first on her trip to Bengaluru last year. Looks like humble little balls of Uttapam at first glance but taste it on the bed of tomato chutney & gunpowder it is served on along with the cheesy mesh and get a direct ticket to foodie heaven. And while we are at south Indian dishes, a must-have is Appam with Korma, with a fresh and crunchy farzified twist of Water Chestnuts and Asparagus elevating the humble Korma to another level altogether :)
Oh yes, these were just the starters. Are you ready for the main course yet? I surely was, least of all because every staff member was making sure we were enjoying the presentation and the stories behind each dish from beginning to end! Pav Bhaji, which is really not something I would order on my own anywhere, stole my heart here as the Bhaji was made of exotic veggies while warmest Focaccia bread served as the humble Pav doppelganger. Incredible, once more!
Pasta lovers rejoice as Spaghetti Aglio Olio comes in a new coconut-y avatar topped with Tomato chutney, a bit on the sweeter side which makes it undoubtedly my type of dish. I polished off the plate while my spice loving sister polished off the Pav Bhaaji :) And then we both attacked the Veg Koftas with Tandoori Methi Roti perfectly balancing the sweetish, dense, creamy curry. Even the portion sizes are perfectly balanced, the science of making us want more & more intact with each passing course :)
Still after all this, having fed like The Hulk himself, we gathered courage to taste the desserts. Turns out that the desserts were going to enchant us all on their own, making us wish we had some extra stomachs to store them all in :D
First up was the most dramatic of them all, The Milky Way. Chocolate soil, Chocolate balls, Grapes, Ice Cream, Rabdi and more made this the most beautiful representation of our galaxy and a delight to dig into. It looks like a lot, but is actually incredibly light and refreshing. I would perhaps order just this for a light snack any given day :D Looks great, tastes even better, even my usually not-sweet-loving sister loved it, what more is needed :)
Parle G Cheesecake, with Rabdi and Gems, was like childhood on a platter. The whole idea being, swipe Parle G cheesecake blocks with rabdi and enjoy them, just like we dipped them in milk when we were children! How cool is that :) And that rabdi, yummy, so dense and pure. Made me wish I was back in my grandma's home where she used to spend hours slaving in the kitchen making the densest Rabdi possible.This is a heavy dish, something that 2 intense dessert lovers should share among themselves :)
And finally came the Rasmalai Tres Leches, a play on the famous 3 layered dessert where the cool Rasmalai comes with carrot cream that brings a hint of our favorite gajar ka halwa in every bite. Add to that the Kesar-ified milk bath & Rabdi as well as the Crown of Mesh Caramel with Pure Rose Petals and this is one dessert that stays in the memory long after the dish has been polished off the plate :)
There is no way I can sum up this brilliant culinary escapade in 1 word, but if I had to, it would be - Unforgettable. I had no idea what molecular gastronomy meant, actually I still know very less about it, I have not turned into a gourmand overnight nor has my sister, but the whole experience of being here and enjoying a hearty dinner has made me want to draw up a will promising to give them my first-born in exchange for a chance to dine here every week :D I don't know how any other place will now live up to the standards set by Farzi Cafe, whether it be the food itself or the ambiance or the service.
All I know is that I have been Farzified, so has been my sister and we cannot wait to bring our parents and all our friends here to be Farzified too!