Falls Church, VA 22046
WE WELCOME a terrific addition to Falls Church City's Indian food scene - SAFFRON took over the now-closed Curry Mantra 2 in the West End Plaza Shopping Center. We were not fans of Curry Mantra 2, despite its seemingly popular appeal to those who prefer a more modern version of Indian food, both in flavor and presentation. So, we were happy to see Curry Mantra 2 close its doors in NoVa to re-open in DC in Spring 2015. Good luck, Curry Mantra 2!
Goes without saying, that, in our humble opinion, Saffron is heads above its predecessor. Since we began our blog in 2010, our long-standing neighborhood favorite for traditional Indian food has been Haandi in the Giant Plaza (Falls Plaza Shopping Center) in Falls Church City. Saffron may well offer some competition to Haandi, located right across the street.
The service at Saffron was great. Azad, a knowledgeable and very pleasant maitre d', took our order and, throughout our meal, was attentive. He supervised several cheerful and very polite wait staff, who assisted in serving dishes, clearing plates, and ensuring our water glasses were always full.
There were happy diners of all ages and demographics, families, couples, and singles, eating here early on a Saturday evening. On a cold evening, the atmosphere in Saffron was warm and amiable.
The food, both in taste and presentation, was also great While we waited for our food to arrive, we snacked on the traditional Papadum served with the standard Indian dipping sauces / chutneys. Our appetizer order of Samosas came out quickly, it was hot and delicious. The Chicken Tikka entree served on a rectangular white plate was perfectly moist and seasoned just right. It comes with an order of plain Naan, but we also ordered a Cheese Naan, which as delicious, though a bit greasy. The saucy, stewey Chicken Vindaloo, served in a bowl, was also terrific, with just the right seasoning and a very slight tinge of sweetness. Hint for those who want an even spicier version of the Vindaloo: Order it as a "10." It was absolutely excellent in its flavor, poured over rice. It is typically prepared at a "5" spice level, so if you can handle the double hotness, you will love it. Overall, the food was wonderful, and priced quite reasonably. Our total bill came to about $41.00, not counting the tip.
For the most part, the restaurant has not been remodeled since Saffron took over this space. The main positive feature of the restaurant's layout is its open kitchen with a very strong exhaust system. The relatively small dining hall seats about 50 at its tables along walls and one middle row. We hope that the new owners address the somewhat sea-sickening askew placement of dining tables in the middle row, which is a relic of the previous restaurant's layout.
Most of the wait staff remained from the predecessor restaurant, though definitely were much better trained, more responsive and seemed much happier and more knowledgeable about their jobs than when they worked for Curry Mantra. The chef, who apparently, worked for a short time in Curry Mantra 2, then left, has returned to cook at Saffron.
Overall, we can't say enough good things about Saffron. Our experience there was very pleasant. We will definitely be back!
Askew placement of tables can lead to sea-sickness, but try not to think about it...
Paneer Kulcha (Cheese Naan) and Chicken Tikka
Hooray for round plates!