Sacha Walters-Gregory, Staff Reporter
Saffron, the new Asian fusion restaurant named after the elite, but popular deep orange-red-coloured spice, will treat you to the distinct smoky taste of grilled foods and authentic Indian curries.
Located in The Courtyard at the Market Place on Constant Spring Road, the new restaraunt is already getting noticed.
"We have the same curries, but the focus is a lot more on grilled food," explained co-owner Vivek Chatani of their menu, which includes a combination of dishes from Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. He explained that many of their dishes focus on using the tandoor which is essential in creating Saffron's unique taste. The tandoor, which is a cylindrical clay oven used in Western, Southern and Central Asian cooking, exposes the food to a naked flame or heated coals to grill or bake. The tandoor is used to grill assorted vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage and assorted meats with spices.
Open for less than a month, the restaurant is the second venture for husband and wife team Vivek and Pooja Chatani Indian natives who decided to share their culture with Jamaica through food. The couple also owns Tamarind, an intimate Indian-cuisine restaurant in the Orchid Village Plaza on Barbican Road.
Due to space constriants at Tamarind, they have been considering expansion for a while. Insufficient parking also proves inconvenient for their customers.
"You definitely have to have a reservation at Tamarind and when we have to turn our customers away, they are very upset," said Pooja.
Saffron seats up to 80 persons and, therefore, allows them to host larger groups.
But increased space aside, Vivek promises that Saffron has a classic ambience and a fully stocked bar which provides cocktails and mocktails, giving Saffron a flair all its own. This, he said, is helped by their reputation for quality food, so the response has been very good so far.
They have added a variety of new dishes to Saffron's menu to include roomali, a very thin bread, (thinner than the traditional naan served with many Indian dishes). Roomali is had only in restaurants in India as opposed to at home. A lunch favourite at Saffron is Kathi rolls, which is a roti wrap filled with either chicken, mutton or paneer (Indian cottage cheese).
Within the next month, they hope to offer thali, which will give diners more variety.
"It's like a platter that comes with four or five curry dishes with bread and rice. We'll see what are the popular dishes to put in that platter," notes Pooja.
The restaraunt opens Tuesdays to Sundays at 12 noon to 10 p.m. and offers dining and takeout.
Vivek said Tamarind has converted a number of Jamaicans to Indian food, besides the traditional curry they already love, hence there is a strong market for Indian food.
"People are willing to pay for quality and they are willing to pay for a great ambience as well," adds Vivek.