Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Saffron Valley

By Tim Tinker

Saffron Valley recently opened an outstanding restaurant in Downtown SLC, after enjoying much success at their South Jordan location (1098 W South Jordan Parkway).

My wife and I stopped in on a weekday evening and were seated promptly in the Dining Room. We quickly learned that Saffron Valley offers a variety of services—lunch, High Tea, dinner, and hosting special occasions. We were immediately charmed by the 1920s Indian décor that fills the main level of the surprisingly expansive restaurant. Saffron Valley boasts a main floor that includes a wine and chai bar, and a small sales counter stocked with Indian Spices and various gifts and Indian items. Slightly above the main floor lies a private party room dubbed the Captain’s Room with space enough for 12 (call ahead), with décor inspired by the sea. We were pleasantly surprised to tour the intimate lower level that houses an additional banquet-style floor of dining tables, with space and tables more suitable for larger parties such as receptions and anniversary gatherings, which we are sure would make for a unique and memorable experience for those special events. This was our first visit to Saffron Valley Downtown, and we were very impressed by the friendly and accommodating staff (we actually overheard an obstinate customer at the next table who was nonetheless treated with complete grace and professionalism by their server—kudos to the Saffron Valley staff).  

Dinner at Saffron Valley will provide ample opportunity to leave the restaurant full and satisfied. Through the course of our meal we were treated to a plethora of different tastes. Our dining experience began with Pappads (roasted lentil chip-like crisps) with sweet and spicy chutney dipping sauce, which were a delightful answer to the tired plate of chips and salsa. Next came the Dosa (lentil and rice crepes) with Sambhar (dipping soup) and more chutney sauce. We liked the Dosa and its accompaniments so much that we asked our server to leave them behind when the main course arrived. For this we put our trust in our most capable server with one caveat—no shellfish, due to allergies, and had the slightly modified Saffron Mixed Platter (substitute Lamb Chop for Shrimp Kebabs) along with Vindaloo Curry and white rice. Along with the platter, we had the hand-tossed Garlic Naan, a must have for any fan of garlic bread. Here is a quick breakdown of our modified platter: Panir Tikka (vegetarian friendly, made from cheese), Malai & original Chicken Tikka (seasoned chunks of clay-oven-grilled chicken), Seekh Kebab (minced meats and spices), and delectable Lamb Chops, along with a super fresh and expansive House Salad (green olives for her, black for me) served with a tangy house dressing. We really liked the Tikkas which featured a tasty blend of complex spices and seasoning. I particularly enjoyed the Lamb Chops which were extremely tender and flavorful. Next came dessert. We had both the Kulfi Trio (Indian ice cream, with Mango, Pistachio, and Saffron flavors) and Rice Pudding. The Kulfi was fantastic—a must try if you haven’t already—and the Rice Pudding’s construction was just right to leave a sweet and light taste.

Overall, we were extremely impressed by Saffron Valley’s food, atmosphere, and staff, and plan on visiting there regularly. We feel that we have only scratched the surface, not only of the dinner menu, but also the lunch offerings, the unique High Tea service and hosting special events. If you are a fan of Indian food, Saffron Valley is a must. If you are new, their super friendly staff will help you navigate the myriad of choices available at this must-try Indian restaurant.  

26 E St
Lunch: Daily, 11:00-3:00PM
High Tea: Monday-Thursday, 2:00-4:00PM (minimum of 6, call ahead)
Dinner: Monday-Thursday, 5:00-10:00PM; Sunday, 5:00-9:00PM

Saffron Valley East India Cafe on Urbanspoon