Monday, December 6, 2010

Saffron Cafe review

I have a slightly sinking feeling that my blogging days are winding down or will be cut back even more with our baby on the way.... so, I have this urge to get to some of my favorite places, and log some necessary record in the form of a review.

Saffron Cafe is on the short little stretch of Ft. Wayne Avenue, in the building that used to house breakfast stop Canary Cafe long ago, right near the IPS administration building, and not far from the Elbow Room. We've been to Saffron Cafe about 6 times now, and my only complaint about the place is that they need a 2nd set of doors to block some of the cold in the winter. Otherwise, this is a fantastic Mediterranean restaurant - Moroccan by specific ethnicity.

On this visit, I had picked up the Better Half from her office place to go out for lunch. We were both craving the shwarma from Saffron Cafe, which is in my opinion the best gyro (or gyro-like substance) in the city. So, no sampling from my dear wife's plate, since we were both getting the same thing. We did start with the zaalouk, which is basically Moroccan babaganoush - an eggplant dip. The pita is warm and the zaalouk is savory. A great starter.

We then both had the shwarma delivered. Ahhhhh.

For $8.95 you have the choice of salad or soup with the shwarma, and I had that day's special soup, which was basically Moroccan chicken and vegetable. With an appetizer already on board, and with the large portion of meat for the shwarma, the soup, while tasty and very hearty (lots of chicken), was really an afterthought. We were focused on the shwarma. The meat isn't from the same old mass produced 15 pound cone at Saffron Cafe. Instead it is a 90-10 blend of ground lamb and ground beef, mixed with seasonings in the kitchen and grilled then sliced for each order. It is just fantastic, savory, richly seasoned, and juicy. There are pickled onions, a little lettuce and both a cucumber sauce and some hot sauce. To make the pita manageable, I have to eat about 1/3rd of the meat without the pita - which is not a chore. Then, you can finally fold the thing together and eat it in an intact "sandwich".

Again, the shwarma is far and away my favorite gyro in the city. Please, give it a try. You'll never view the cone-meat the same way again.....

We were given a tajine for a wedding gift, and it hasn't really been a highly used item. But, you can find many tajine-based items on the saffron cafe menu. Due to the fact that tajine-items are for slow cooking, I don't believe most are cooked to order IN a tajine, but instead are served in very cool decorative tajines. But, there are some wonderful dishes to try, both lamb and chicken and a few other items. I've heard wonderful things about the steak specials for the evening meal, but not tried one yet. The meals are hearty and very filling. The wait staff is prompt, professional and attentive. The interior is dark and intimate, yet very friendly. Most of the entrees are under $20, so great value. Above all, the meals are so full of flavor.

And, something that has to be mentioned is Chef Sentissi. I believe every time we have been to Saffron Cafe, he has at some point come out to talk to patrons at each table, introduce himself, and seek feedback. He is warm and engaging and seems to truly love his work - it definitely shows. You can also see him during an appearance on WISH TV.

The verdict: robust flavor, big servings, warm welcome, good value - an Indy Grub Review favorite! 5 belly rubs (out of 5).


Lisa said...

Thanks for this review. I'v seen the decorative exterior but have not taken the time to visit yet. Now I will.

Congratulations on the coming baby but it will be our loss! I look forward to your reviews and consider them one of the best in the city! Cheers!

Indy Grub Review said...

Thanks for the kind comment. Maybe Little Man will allow us to go out more than my current anticipation, so, we'll see. We're older parents, so we want to focus on him as much as we can.

Katie said...

Lunch is a better deal than dinner but the saffron is a great place to eat.