Friday, August 26, 2005

A restaurant review - Saffron

AG had a S$20 voucher for Saffron and we being the foodphiles we are, couldn't wait beyond the first available friday to drop in. Also since AG had already eaten there with his colleagues and liked the chicken tikka and paneer makhani, he was ardently selling the idea of a Friday dinner there. So off we went last Friday.

Saffron is this rather small restaurant on one of the roads approaching boat quay. Since it is not on Boat Quay proper, it doesn't see the stampede that the restaurants situated on that stretch do. And it is also located in one of those quaint Chinese shophouse buildings. I reached before AG did and the doorman/waiter asked me to come in. I was pleasantly surprised because, 'one'...there was a doorman and he WAS standing at the door and 'two'...he had the presence of mind to ask me to wait inside. And when I refused he actually pulled out one of the chairs at the tables set outside. (By then I was almost fainting in surprise at finding this rare display of good service). So there I sat people-watching and waiting.

AG arrived soon and we betook ourselves in. The place was furnished with the mandatory Indian looking paintings and silk cloth framed thingamjigs that everybody who calls themselves a chic Indian eatery seem to be doing these days. We ordered our drinks (chardonnay for me and peach lassi for AG) and starters (chicken tikka and aubergine kebab). A coupla minutes later one of the waiters got us these pale-yellowish drinks in miniature glasses... 'Welcome drink ma'am' ... Wonders never cease I tell you!

AG and I sipped on the mango yoghurt drink, chatted about our day and waited for our order to materialise. Our drinks came in first... Syrah for me and AG's lassi... "Syrah??... But I had asked for the Chardonnay". An apology and some head shaking later my wine glass was brought in. The chardonnay was rather good... crisp and light and out of a fresh bottle, not poured out of a half-used bottle stashed in the refrigerator for half the week. The peach lassi was... well different. After about 30 minutes of waiting and listening to the rumblings of our complaining bellies we were delighted to see the waiter coming towards us with the starters. 'Tandoori Chicken' and 'Aubergine Kebab' he muttered as he placed the dishes on the table. I looked at the 'Tandoori Chicken' and then at AG. AG meanwhile was fuming. "Who took our order", he roared... the waiter came and stood before us like a lamb brought to slaughter. "Sorry sir, blah-blah--blah... so you see it was not my fault". "I don't care whose fault it was, but can I get my Chicken tikka and FAST".

Another 15 minutes spend downing wine and picking at the sad aubergine kebab, which by the way was aubergine stuffed with potatoes and cashew nuts and roasted in a tandoor. The chicken tikka arrived at last and it was worth the wait. Tender, fresh chicken marinated just right and tandoor-ed just right as well. Not as spicy as we Indians like it but then a major part of their clientele looked Caucasian and hence the careful use of chillies and chilly powder.

For main course we had paneer makhani and naan. Paneer was soft and fresh and the gravy was tangy, slightly sweetish, very creamy... one of the best paneer makhanis I have had in Singapore!

Food was quite good barring the aubergine mistake and made up for the botched up service. And then the location is a major advantage. I love the old building the restaurant is situated in. A post dinner long walk along Singapore river or a quiet chat, sitting on the steps at boat quay is an ideal way to end the evening. I guess we will go down again and try some other stuff they serve.