£10 Challenge: Eclectic Indian fare offering clean, fresh, sharp, exhilarating tastes
Saffrani is tucked away in South College Street, round the corner from the Festival Theatre and just past the Captain’s Bar. The restaurant is painted bright red and there is usually an equally bright sign at the corner of that street and Nicholson Street, to compensate for their discreet location, nae doot!
My lunch companion, A., and I had the place to ourselves at first so were offered a table for four rather than for two by our friendly waiter. This gave us plenty of room for the plate of crisp poppadums that accompanied four dishes of dips - spicy onion chutney, smooth mango chutney, wickedly hot lime pickle, and cooling raita – that were our welcome pre- starters. The restaurant itself is quite small, but has a pleasant atmosphere showing Indian scenes and figures on the otherwise plain walls.
Saffrani has a moderately priced à la carte menu that includes a choice seafood dishes not on the set lunch menu at the incredible price of £5.90 for 2 courses. This menu offers both vegetarian and meat dishes as a matter of course, and includes favourites such as a choice of pakora, kebab, samosa and bhaji as starters with Chicken Korma, Chicken Kadai, Chicken Tikka Masala, Chicken Jalfrezi, Lamb Kadai, Lamb Jalfrezi, Lamb Bhuna, Lamb Rogan Josh, Dal Makhani, Sag Aloo, Aloo Gobi, Vegetable Korma, Tadka Dal as mains. They also offer a pre theatre menu of 2 courses £11.95 so there is something for all budgets and offer BYOB.
My choice of starter was vegetable pakora and A.’s was chicken kebab. Each portion was fresh, flavoursome and generous (I had four pakora!) and served with a bright colourful salad of finely shredded lettuce, tomato, cucumber, a token slice of carrot and of course a slice of lemon as garnish. We each chose a jalfrezi dish, with me opting for chicken and A. for lamb.
All mains are served with nan bread or rice and we chose the latter which arrived in plenty and was both warm and fluffy. That is a rather clichéd description of rice, I know, so I will say that it was beautifully cooked – neither sticky nor hard - and there was plenty of it. The meats were tender and tasty and the overall impression was that of clean, fresh, sharp, exhilarating tastes of eclectic Indian fare.
We were given good, friendly, attentive service with our water glasses being topped up unbidden throughout the meal! We each decided that we’d been fed for the day, such were the portions.
It is a few years now since I first dined at Saffrani but the length of time of my absence is no reflection on the quality of food on offer there. I enjoyed it then and equally enjoyed my recent visit as part of the £10 Challenge. They are worth seeking out.