Faraja is a Swahili word for ‘peace, comfort and relief’, according to the restaurant’s website, and that reflects the philosophy of this beautiful spot located at the northern end of King William Road, Hyde Park.
The first time I visited Faraja was for a progressive lunch for Variety on King William. And now I was back with my husband to celebrate our wedding anniversary.
From the moment I booked, we had good service, with the man on the phone who took my booking cheery and joking with me. We were the first to arrive at the restaurant but it soon filled up, with only one spare table by the time we left. Unfortunately, as we were at a corner table, we felt blocked in by the surrounding two tables.
Upon walking in, the well-stocked bar lay at the back with the wooden tables and chairs scattered in front, at different angles. Beautiful paintings adorned the walls from local artists. Wooden floorboards meant it was a little noisy once the restaurant filled up, but I’ve been in louder spaces.
We began the night with a cocktail, with 10 to choose from. We selected the Dark and Stormy, with spiced rum, lime and ginger beer, and the Bay Breeze with Malibu, pineapple and cranberry. The Dark and Stormy was a favourite of my husband’s as he enjoys spiced rum.
To begin, we ordered black olive tapenade and pumpkin and Gruyere arrancini.
The tapenade was rich, salty and thick and spread nicely on the toasted, smokey bread. The arrancini were crispy on the outside and creamy and gooey on the inside, with a lovely balance of sweet pumpkin and creamy, salty cheese.
For ‘to share’ plates we ordered chargrilled lamb backstrap with artichoke, quinoa and roast nut salad, and orange braised pork belly with orange and fennel salad. By far, the lamb salad was our favourite dish of the night. The lamb was tender with a pink blush, the salad crisp with small pieces of cucumber and cherry tomatoes, and there were roasted nuts and seeds sprinkled through from almond, pistachios, sunflower seeds and pepitas, along with the quinoa. The yoghurt dressing on the side was cool and refreshing. The pork was two nicely squared pieces. The crackling was crispy and the accompanying remoulade was light and creamy. I found the meat to be very fatty in my mouth, and that lingered. My husband’s crackling was soft and difficult to cut. It was still a very tasty dish, but the lamb salad was a much more complex and satisfying experience. As we wanted to keep some room for dessert we didn’t order any sides and we really didn’t need to. We were quite full from these dishes.
For dessert we shared the dessert tasting plate with baileys and espresso semifreddo, warm chocolate hazelnut cake, berry Eton mess, salted caramel tart, chocolate Cointreau pot. And what a beautiful plate to share! Warm chocolate cake and cold semifreddo, salted caramel and berries – all contrasting flavours on one big plate!
Service was good – our waitress was new and friendly, and she tried hard to answer as many questions as she could.
We really enjoyed our visit to Faraja and look forward to taking friends with us on our next visit. We’re keen to try the signature dish – beef ribs. There’s also a 15-hour braised whole lamb shoulder or black Angus beef brisket (24 hours notice is needed for those!)
Faraja is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from breakfast right through until late, closing at 3pm Sunday.