The launch of Farzi Cafe in Kolkata sets the tone right for new gastronomic experiences
The coronavirus pandemic has made us sedentary in ways more than one can ever imagine. Our socialising skills have gone for a toss and eating out has become a long-forgotten habit. However, as we are slowly emerging from hibernation at home in slatternly track pants and joggers and re-engaging socially, the city’s F&B sector too is gearing up to welcome us back with new culinary experiences.
And nothing could be a bigger start for Kolkata than the opening of the much-awaited Farzi Café, a renowned brand from the stable of Massive Restaurants founded by Zorawar Kalra, son of the late food mogul Jiggs Kalra. “This November-December would be the best in the history of the Indian F&B scene. There’s a lot of pent-up demand and there will be revenge consumption. Vaccination will change the dynamic,” reflects an ever-hopeful Kalra.
The resplendent café located at the premises of Golden Park Hotel in Ho Chi Minh Sarani exudes all the positivity, warmth and energy that any restless soul pines for after prolonged isolation. The dichroic glass reflects the city’s colourful vibe and monochrome frames of old Calcutta remind us how it stands for joie de vivre. Be it floral murals, dome lights with terracotta danglers and a kinetic chandelier, a wall full of yellow taxi masks or a façade studded with moving fans, this well-spaced-out, brightly illuminated outlet has several Instagrammable trappings.
We also loved the seating arrangement that has all kinds of options on offer. You can choose from the relaxing lounges to the stylish low cushioned chairs or the elegant bar stools that are splattered across the diner. We made ourselves comfortable in one of the lounges for a rain-soaked afternoon lunch. And what better way to begin that than with a sumptuous season-special mustard hilsa dish with a smattering of onion rice. The delectable queen of fish was totally balanced in taste with a perfect blend of the yellow and black mustard seed paste. The slit green chillies added more to the flavour of the fish. Almost always had with white rice, we loved having the fish with rice fried with onions and trust us; it didn’t clash with the hilsa at all.
“Kolkata has always been one of my favourite cities. Our experience with Pa Pa Ya has been great here and so, it made perfect sense to open Farzi here. You can expect a lot of innovations in terms of drinks, food, vibrant atmosphere and great music. Apart from the signature dishes, there will be 10 locally inspired dishes. We have incorporated the key elements and ‘Farzified’ a few of them while some dishes have been left untouched,” shares Zorawar.
Next, we tasted the ‘Farzified’ Bengali Aloor Dum and Jhalmoori, a dish that attempts at giving a taste of two of the city’s all-time favourite street foods. It was an explosion of several notes at the same time. The spicy potato melded well with the piquant mustard gravy that engulfed it and the crunchy puffed rice retained all the right notes of a street-side masala moori. You can pair it with any of their lighter cocktails on a rainy day, we felt.
But what we loved relishing was their Farzified Tangra Chilli Chicken Roll. A cross between shawarma and an egg chicken roll, this light wrap saved us from the guilt pangs that usually grip us after surrendering to the temptations of an oily roll.
You can gloss over the very exhaustive menu and choose from the wide array of options including the ever-famous Jiggs Kalra Dal Makhani, Rawa Kasundi Fish, Desi Chowmein Egg Roll or Guntur Chilli Chicken to name a few.
Compared to the starters and the mains the dessert section in the menu might leave you wanting in terms of more options, but the Parle G Cheesecake and Ras Malai Tres Leches will more than make up for that.
Meal for two: Rs 2,000++
Food, future and so much more...
Here’s what Zorawar Kalra had to say about the way ahead for F&B industry:
How do you see the F&B sector evolving?
Undue expenses, that were not necessarily enhancing the guest experience, were plaguing this industry. Hence a lot of restaurant chains, big and small will come out much leaner, healthier, more streamlined and more focussed.
Future of cloud kitchens?
Cloud kitchens are definitely here to stay. But it is complementary to the business rather than a substitute. Restaurants can’t survive on delivery alone. A lot of players including us are looking at it seriously. We already launched Butter Delivery and will have around 25 cloud kitchens by the end of this calendar year. We just announced the launch of cloud restaurant Louis Burger that will start delivering high-quality burgers in Bombay and Delhi in a few days.
We just opened Bo Tai in Vagator (Goa), and expansion plans are on in Canada, Nagpur and Indore this calendar year. Also, Farzi will be opening its doors in two cities of the US, probably by this year-end, including one in New York.
A dish you cook perfectly?
A European style omelette — smooth as a pebble, no wrinkles on the top, moist centre and slightly runny. It’s all about the right cooking temperature and making sure that you don’t overcook it or let it become brown. Keep rotating the pan and don’t let any part of the egg cook in one spot for too long. Don’t put too many things in it. For rendering it runny in the middle, it has to be layered thicker and higher in height.