This review can also be found at Seattle Dining!
Awkwardly located in the parking lot of the Nexus Hotel stands Saffron Grill, the self-proclaimed “white-tablecloth” Indian-Mediterranean restaurant of North Seattle. My mother and I decided to venture there for dinner recently for some much-desired Indian eats.
Upon walking through the front door, the fact that the restaurant is in a parking lot tends to be forgotten; the interior is beautifully decorated with a full bar and bright colors adorning every which corner. I had made reservations the day prior because, as you should expect, Saturday evenings are busy here, with waiters scurrying in every direction. Despite the reservation, we were not seated until nearly 20 minutes after arriving – a difficult wait when aromatic spices are filling the room. We were eventually lead to our table and offered the drink menu which was chock-full of imaginative cocktails. Being the margarita snob I am, I had to see what the Mangalore margarita was all about. While tasting virtually nothing like a margarita, it was nevertheless a delicious and creative blend of tequila, pureed mango, lime and even a little bit of a mystery spice sprinkled on top.
Next up on our list of priorities was the appetizer. My mom eagerly suggested the samosas, to which I concurred, having not eaten one in ages. I dug into the vegetable samosa I ordered and immediately my taste buds rejoiced upon being united with the sensationally soft, flaky, spicy, savory, potato-filled pastry that is the Saffron Grill samosa. And of course, on the side was the classic cilantro-chutney dipping sauce, just in case we had any doubts about whether those samosas had enough flavor. Mom, who had recently been to India, agreed that the samosa was indeed a winner, and an authentic one at that.
Then came time to order the main event: a vegetable coconut curry, and of course, garlic naan on the side. I love spicy food, so I made sure to ask the waiter for, and I quote: “maximum-level spice.” While dinner did take a considerable amount of time to get to us, it was extremely worthwhile in the end. Admittedly, the garlic naan was good, but certainly nothing mind-blowing. The coconut curry, on the other hand, was a different story; a delicious blend of coconut, ginger, various spices and cream to give it a rich, luscious texture. The vegetables were perfectly cooked and served with a heaping plate of basmati rice to assist the curry. The quantity of food they served us was enormous, and I was pleased to report that I had enough for leftovers the next day. And now for the most important tidbit from the evening: the coconut curry was exceedingly spicy. So spicy, in fact, that I had to continuously take breaks in order to finish it. As a pretentious spicy-food connoisseur, this certainly was a monumental victory.
After packing away our leftovers and feeling incredibly stuffed with spicy goodness, the waiter handed us the dessert menu. My eyes immediately gravitated toward the baklava, the illustrious Mediterranean layered pastry. It came served with a complimentary rice pudding, which was a tad lackluster. The baklava itself, however, was to die for with its endless layers of flaky dough soaked in honey, spices and ground pistachios. I could only take a few bites before I put down my fork, completely unable to eat any more, but I merrily took home the rest for dessert the next day.
The meal was quite expensive, and certainly not within my price range on a regular basis, but as a treat for a special occasion, this is the spot. For a restaurant in a hotel parking lot, Saffron Grill is overall quite a classy choice for your Indian-food cravings, and superior for all my fellow spicy-food enthusiasts.