Saffron Circle is the first UK outpost of the growing Saffron Valley Family of Indian Restaurants from the USA, founded by Lavanya Mahate a successful Indian restaurateur, originally from India and for whom food is her passion as well as her nostalgic gateway to her homeland.
Located in Swiss Cottage, as you walk in, be it with your own circle of friends or family, or by yourself, you are welcome with open arms into Saffron Circle.
The restaurant’s decor is a splendid modern mix of colours with dark blues and greens juxtaposed against a romantic mural that takes centre stage themed around the love story of a couple called Maya and Rishi. The noticeably warm and hospitable service we received as we walked in is very characteristic of Indian culture, and we very quickly felt very much at home as we were seated at our table.
I was invited to review on this occasion and so there was a special menu prepared for me that had a selection of dishes already chosen for me to try but having glanced at the main menu I know I will be back to try more dishes soon too as there were so many amazing options that also catered well for vegetarians and Vegans alike.
We started with perfectly crunchy mini poppadams served with a selection of chutney whilst we perused the cocktail menu, which is inspired by Maya and Rishi’s romantic tale.
For drinks I decided to start with ‘The Red Scarf,’ a refreshing blend of Gin, Strega and Kümmel, peach and jasmine soda, lime and mint inspired by Maya’s favourite book, ‘Around the World in 80 Days.’
We also tried Juhu Beach, which was a delicious medley of Dark rum, mango puree, lime juice, gingerbread syrup and touch of sea salt, which was definitely one of my favourites from the selection as it tasted like a holiday cocktail!
Love at first sight was a delicious fruity cocktail made from Vodka, prosecco, guava juice, homemade curry syrup, lime and raspberry that we also shared and also a lovely drink.
Now on to the food! We started with Small Plates and as someone that has grown up with Indian food, nothing hits the spot quite as well as a colourful and well-textured plate of chaat and the Punjabi Samosa Chaat did just that with its plethora of textures and flavours ranging from sweetness from the lashings of creamy yoghurt, savoury from the potato and green pea pastry, to tangy and fresh with the perfectly paired drizzles of tamarind and mint chutney, and garnish of sweet potato crisps and pomegranates bursting with juicy flavour.
We also devoured Chicken 65, which was fragrant with curry leaves and devilishly tasty with an addictive chilli kick. This dish is a Chennai speciality with deep-fried boneless chicken flavoured with a variety of spices, and the Chef nailed it.
From the Grills we had Lamb Chops marinated with fresh ginger, dried fenugreek, herbs and spices and they were succulent and melt in the mouth. Lamb Chops can be hit and miss but in this case, again, they were cooked to perfection and you could tell that great care had been taken to marinate them well.
The star of the show for me, however, was the Saffron Paneer. Perfectly chargrilled cubes of paneer marinated with saffron, ginger and spices were just so decadent and I really relished the lively blend of sweet, savoury and tart flavours.
Starting to feel full, we bravely persevered for there was a handsome Prawn Biryani that arrived with tantalising aromas filling the air, that tasted as good as it smelt and looked!
For mains we mopped up the rich aromatic gravy of the Chettinad Chicken Curry, a Southern Indian speciality, with fluffy pieces of Garlic Cheese Naan and Lachha Paratha
The side order of Dal Palak was glorious too and I could simply have had bowls and bowls of the creamy slow-cooked lentils on that wintry afternoon!
Concluding our colourful meal on a sweet note, I indulged in the Coconut and Passion Fruit Panna Cotta served with honey glazed gulab jamun. Just divine!
I also thoroughly enjoyed pairing it with Magic of Maya, a dreamy blend of Ceylon Arack, Coco Lopez, almond milk, double cream, orange bitters, peach and jasmine soda, and which celebrates the wedding of
Maya and Rishi. I thought it was a fitting cocktail to end a superb feast on!
I loved Saffron Circle’s eclectic menu, which reflects the varied and rich melting pot of cultures and sub-cultures from India, and which has something that will make everyone happy! I know I will definitely be back with friends in tow to try more of the dishes that sound fantastic.
If you are looking for a new venue to try Indian food that is authentic, cooked from the heart and presented beautifully with a warm air of homeliness, head on over to Saffron Circle and DO order *that* Saffron Paneer!
Find it: New College Parade, 7, London NW3 5EP