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Thursday, November 22, 2012
Kansas City (MO): A Taste of India in the Northland of Kansas City
Saffron is a new, excellent Indian (as in India) restaurant with a family atmosphere in the Northland just south of Zona Rosa.
In a strip mall off I-29 near Barry Road, it does not look like much from the outside. Looks can be surprising because the interior is clean and tastefuly, although sparsely, decorated.
The staff welcomes you warmly and quickly, particularly Navnet (pronounced nov-neet) the lovely and charming hostess from Northern India, providing a menu that is almost overwhelming. There are far too many options to choose from, but based on our experience, you will not be disappointed no matter the choice. Vegetarian, chicken, and lamb options dominate the menu. You will not find beef here because India is a predominantly Hindu nation and cows are sacred...SO YOU CANNOT EAT THEM!
The dishes are well prepared and presented, offering reasonable quantities at more than reasonable prices. Not extremely overpriced, the restaurant was empty at 8PM on a Friday night, so shaving a few dollars of the almost completely ala carte menu would probably draw more customers as would additional advertising and possibly some coupons.
Navnet was delightful, dressed in traditional Indian fashion and an accent to match. She quickly took our order both times we have been there, asking if we had any questions. Having lived in England for three years while in the military, I became quite familiar with Indian cuisine, so we did not need the help. She brought the traditional (complimentary) papadum (crispy spiced lentil wafers) accompanied by two relishes, one green and one red.
I ordered the lamb vindaloo combination plate on our first visit ($18.99 – lamb rogan josh, a classic curry, and pasanda served in a mild walnut cream sauce, were other options), including a generous copper bowl of lamb vindaloo (lamb and potato in a spicy sauce) accompanied by dal (a lentil stew), raita (a creamy sauce similar to Greek Tzatziki used to temper the spiciness if desired), and nan (traditional handmade, baked flatbread). My wife, preferring vegetarian dishes and not a fan of lamb in particular, had the sag paneer ($11.99), a copper tureen of creamed spinach baked with chunks of white farmers cheese inside.
Classic Nan Bread
My combination plate was delicious and a fair value for the amount and quality of the food. It could have been priced a dollar or two less, $16.99 would be fair, if they hope to generate more business, but I was not disappointed. The vindaloo was delicious although the chunks of lamb were not abundant, the dal was a little dry, but delicious, the raita was creamy and a nice compliment to the spicy vindaloo, and the nan bread scrumptious. The sag paneer was also delicious and plentiful, but at $11.99 ala carte, quite a bit overpriced for some creamed spinach, a few chunks of cheese, and spices. We ordered the kabuli bread ($3.99) for my wife, a leavened bread stuffed with nuts, cherries, raisins, and coconut, which was tasty, but a little to sweet for a main course accompaniment. There are 13 bread choices, so I think we will pick a more savory option next time if ordering ala carte.
On our second visit, we decided to go ala carte. I started with the lamb samosa, at $3.99 for two, they (2) were cooked to perfection and one of the best values on the menu. An accompannying sauce or chutney would be nice, but I just used to leftover sauces from the papadum. For my main course, I ordered the lamb rogan josh, a traditional red curry, medium in heat, and my wife ordered the malai kofta, a vegetarian dish with fried vegetable and cheese balls in a mild cream sauce reminiscent of some butter chicken dishes I have tasted, both were delicious! I have to say that at $13.99 and $11.99 respectively for an ala carte dish, the lamb and vegetarian cheese balls were sparse. I am not saying the dishes were not delicious, only that they are very overpriced, $10.99 and $8.99 would be more reasonable and at the top-end of the scale if you ask me. My wife ordered th kabuli nan again, she is a creature of habit, and I tried the paneer nan this time, whole wheat bread baked with a layer of farmer's cheese inside. It was excellent and savory, just right to accompany the rogan josh.
In all, our meals have been delightful, even though the prices are a bit high and Saffron has not received their liquor license yet, beer and vindaloo were born for each other, but staff says they should have it "any day".
There is a 15% off dinner "special" on their website (link above), but make sure you print off a copy of the page and the offer and bring t with you if you hope to get the discount.
CombatCritic upgrades Saffron to 7 out of 10 BOMBS ... more bombs are good ... still leaving room for improvement in the decor, pricing, and liquor options.
Lunch Buffet 7 Days a Week Mon- Fri 11.00 to 2.30 Sat- Sun 11.30 TO 3.00 Dinner Mon - Sat 5.00 to 10.00 Sun 5.00 to 9.00