Saffron has a Seasoned Chef and New Expanded Menu
Between San Francisco and Silicon Valley lies the town of Burlingame, home of the Michelin-starred Indian food restaurant, Rasa. This upscale suburban restaurant has become a halfway meeting point for families and friends celebrating anniversaries and birthdays.
Ajay Walia, the tech entrepreneur behind Saffron has come a long way since he opened the first Saffron 20 years ago in San Carlos.
For Saffron, edition 2, Walia has crafted an inviting new menu that offers a modern take on old favorites.
The New Crowdpleasers
The menu features crowd pleasers of paneer kofta in buttery tomato sauce, Butter Chicken, Saffron Daal Makhani, General Tso’s Gobi, a twist on Gobi Manchurian and the wonderful melt in your mouth balls of vada pav dipped in Ghee & GunPowder.
Mango slices sprinkled with salty tagine sit confidently atop the black lava ringed mango and smoked jalapeno cocktail laced with mezcal.
Inside the breezy, modern interior, a custom-made nine-and-a-half-foot glass chandelier that twinkles above celebrating families and Valley millennials catching up over dinner. Walia feels he’s met his goal of creating an Indian restaurant worthy of their dollars.
“Only a handful of Indian restaurants are doing what we are doing,” says Walia. “Serving quality Indian food, same as a fancy Italian or French restaurant does. We are not compromising on our employees welfare, quality of food, ingredients and providing a high end experience.”
Chilli lentil powder blended with ghee that usually embraces soft white idlis mingles with the vada pav, alongside a rustling salad. The Bombay Sliders hit a spot.
A guest twirls her basil infused grapefruit cocktail and takes a greedy slurp from the salty rim. In front of her sits her order – the Travancore Fish Moilee (halibut in coconut curry, black mustard, red chillies moilee) and a crisp dosa look – dishes that were popular with Rasa loyalists. Allepey Vegetable Curry cooked in rich and creamy coconut milk and freshly ground spices spills onto the plate. Next to it is the Ghee & GunPowder. This stuff is gold dust.
“Professionals with training in management bring a different sensibility to the restaurant market. They enter the food business purposefully and not accidentally. They understand that food is inherently artisanal in nature. Not everyone can be pleased. Mistakes will be made,” explains Walia. He says he will not compromise on quality and effort, but he expects the same from diners. “Don’t make shortcuts in payment and tipping,” suggests Walia.
A helpful server suggests a selection of dishes that this diner is happy to order after a prior successful experience with him. The Mangalore Fried Chicken with lime-chili yoghurt arrives on a bed of crispy pakoras of chard, red onions and fennel.
In the kitchen, chefs sniff spices and test dishes to ensure the dining experience is a memorable one.
Dessert lovers are in for a treat. “ We serve desserts made by Masterchef contestant Hetal Vasavada,” says Walia. “Her Gulab Jamun cake and Cardamom Brûlée melds Indian flavors to a European experience.”
A pistachio Chantilly cream rests in the crispy butteriness of kesar pista cream puffs. Delicious ice cream from the delectable Koolfi Creamery vie for their rightful place on the dessert scene. Saffron gives them their rightful due.
Saffron in Burlingame is largely a dine in restaurant, though the San Carlos restaurant also offers carry out.
Saffron, 209 Park Road, Burlingame
Open Tuesday – Thursday from 5:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 5:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. In the future, Saffron plans to open daily for lunch and dinner. Reservations may be made via Resy. For more information, please visit: www.thesaffronrestaurant.com.
Saffron’s original San Carlos location is at 1143 San Carlos Avenue.