What's your standard order at an Indian restaurant?

A few poppadums, then straight into a chicken jalfrezi with a bhaji and naan bread on the side?

Maybe you push the boat out and have a kebab or chicken tikka starter before the main event?

If that's the case you'll have to change your expectations if you're heading to Farzi in Haymarket.

Here the small plates and sides steal the show and you'll have to get used to a whole new range of dishes you've never heard of.

So if you don't know your pani poori from your amritsari jheenga, then when the charming waiter asks if you would like any help, don't be too proud to respond with a resounding 'yes'.

The Angoori Pani PooriThe Angoori Pani Poori (Image: Simon Murfitt, Newsquest)

A short walk from Piccadilly Circus, Farzi is in the epicentre of tourist land, but that hasn't made the waiting staff any less inclined to make the best impression on their customers.

Despite its location on the ground floor of the historic Kings House, next door to Theatre Royal Haymarket, Farzi is decked out like a modern party spot, with a large square bar taking centre stage. Here, if you're not feeling peckish, you can just perch sipping one of their signature cocktails and nibbling at a bar snack like paneer popcorn or fried momos (Himalayas dimplings).

There's no relaxing classical Indian music hiding in the background, instead upbeat ragtime helps to maintain the party vibes.

Yet once you take your seats it feels intimate. A lot of thought has clearly gone into the absorbent furnishings, which mean you can easily hear what your friends have to say and aren't distracted by the conversation on the table next to you.


After kicking off with assorted poppadums, we order a smorgasbord of small plates. The menu advertises these as ‘Indian street classics, reinvented’, which is a good description. The goat mince kheema, for example, doesn’t come as a naan bread as expected, instead the mince is separate from the bread so you can dip into it.

Chef Dhwani Agarwal has also dipped into other cuisines. Ever wondered if combining Indian and Italian cooking could work? The dal chawal arancini is evidence it can. And the butter chicken bao is the best-tasting chicken in a bun you’ve ever had.

At this stage the general consensus at the table is we’ve gone too hard, too early. There’s a slight feeling of apprehension as our main courses arrive, accompanied by an overflowing bread basket.

While some dishes on the menu may be alien to many, the curries on offer include some classic favourites, such as biryani and chicken tikka masala. The sauces are so creamy and indulgent it would be a sin not to make the most of the breads to lap them up. The truffle and cheese naan stood out as one of the highlights of the evening.

But the dish that will last longest in the memory is the simplest – the tandoori salmon. The tender meat just falls away with the slightest encouragement, and like everything else it has just the right amount of spice for someone prone to the nose sweats if anything is too peppery.

The Parle G cheesecake and trio of sorbetThe Parle G cheesecake and trio of sorbet (Image: Simon Murfitt, Newsquest)

At this point we’re just about ready to slip into a food coma and doing our best not to think of the journey home on a packed tube, but we’re somehow persuaded to give the dessert menu a try.

It’s often eschewed by diners at Indian restaurants, but dessert is a big deal at Farzi. The Parle G is an ode to the famous Indian biscuits, which in this dish adorn a velvety cheesecake - although the surrounding by masala chai rabdi wasn't quite to my taste.

But the trio of sorbet – delightfully fresh raspberry, pineapple and lemon – all stacked on top of each other, was the perfect way to round off a fabulous meal.