We went to Saffron to celebrate a friend’s birthday. The original, which gets great reviews, is in Morrisville (we have yet to try it). This new location in Chapel Hill is in the new mixed use development on 54. The space is just lovely! The dimly lit room is decorated with rich mahogany wood furnishings and Indian artwork in jewel tones. It is indeed one of the most beautiful rooms! We made a reservation but it wasn’t necessary as it was almost empty when we arrived on a Tuesday evening.
We started with the Tandoori Vegetable Khazana (platter of assorted appetizers) and the Rajastani Kurkuri Bhindi (fried okra). The Paneer Tikka Saslic on the platter was wonderful! The paneer had a nice firm texture and a nice tikka masala spice. The okra was cut very thin and batter fried and dusted with a chili powder and salt. They were truly addictive!
For dinner we tried the Nargisi Kofta, the Tandoor Basil Sea Bass and the Saffron Lamb Shank Maharaja. The kofta are grated vegetable dumplings cooked in a cream sauce. Here rather than several small dumplings they prepared one large dumpling. While the dish, particularly the sauce, was delicious I was very distracted by the texture. I felt the larger dumpling was a bit soft and mushy in the center which is not the case when smaller dumplings are made. The sea bass was excellent! I believe it was marinated in a basil mixture as basil flavored every bite of the lovely green tinted fish. The highlight of the evening was the lamb shank. It was absolutely delicious and fall-off-the-bone tender! The meat was rich with spices of chili, cumin, anise and cardamom.
Though we were all pretty full, I had to order the Ras Malai. It is my favorite Indian dessert and it seems most restaurants don’t carry it. It was a wonderful version!! The paneer was firm and moist having soaked up the rich, not too sweet, cream sauce.
Saffron is a beautiful space with wonderful food! While the prices were a bit higher than most Indian restaurants, we will surely go back for an occasion.
Saffron at Chapel Hill
3140 Environ Way
Chapel Hill, NC 27517