I recently dropped off a long-overdue Foodster Award for Best Indian to Saffron on Sand Lake Road, and based on the lunch I also ordered, it is still deserving of the honor.
Saffron is part of the group of Indian restaurants that includes Madras Cafe, the all vegetarian and vegan restaurant, and the estimable Mynt in Winter Park’s Hannibal Square neighborhood.
Saffron, and its sister restaurants, has implemented a well-thought-out online ordering system that is easy to use. Its menu is a sizable one, however, so you’ll need some time to browse through all the tempting entries.
For my recent order, I concentrated on some of the items that aren’t as prevalent on most of the local Indian restaurant menus. For an appetizer, I chose the lasuni gobi, which featured tender cauliflower florets in light batter jackets deep fried and tossed with sauteed onions in a garlic sauce that also had some spicy chili notes. Delicious.
For one of my entrees I chose the andra lamb curry, a South Indian specialty with a gravy seasoned with bedki chilies and whole curry leaves. There was also a prominent black pepper note in the curry, which was wonderful spooned over the fluffy white basmati rice.
I also ordered a xacutti dish, the Goan specialty that is often made with chicken, which is what I thought I had selected. But it, too, was made with lamb. Whether this was a misclick on my point when ordering I can’t say, but I wasn’t disappointed – I love lamb. Here the gravy is flavored with coconut powder and dotted with poppy seeds for a nutty texture.
Lunch plates come with an appetizer of a vegetable samosa, a flaky pastry turnover filled with seasoned potatoes and accompanied by tamarind and mint chutneys. The orders also come with naan, delicious lentil soup, and a dessert of gulab jamoon, the donut-like dumpling in sweet rose water with crushed pistachios.
Even though the lunch came with naan, and a generous serving of it at that, I also got the cheese naan, which had a generous amount of the house-made cheese inside the beautifully seared bread.
Saffron’s ordering system allowed for prepayment with gratuity and allowed me to specify curbside pickup. upon arrival I called the restaurant and my order, in a clear bag with a tamper-proof seal, was brought out immediately.
And it should be noted that the lunch prices represent a bargain – both entrees were $13 – especially with food of this quality.