When people from back home ask me, “how do you like St. Louis?” my usual response is probably a bit over enthusiastic. I gush about the culture and the people, and let’s be honest, I gush about the food. Hey, when you’re from a town of 2,500 people the “big” city has a lot to offer.
Let me put it this way, the closest thing that my hometown has to “ethnic food” is Amigos (aka fast food Tex-Mex). Now, don’t get me wrong, I love me some Amigos (it was single handedly responsible for any weight I gained in college); but, until moving to the city, I ate a lot of steak and potatoes. Indian, Vietnamese, Syrian, Russian, Ethiopian, Thai… all of those flavors were foreign [har har] to me until moving to STL. And so, I take it as a personal duty and challenge to enjoy and take advantage of these delicacies on as regular of a basis as I can.
Luckily, the opportunities are vast; in fact, last night my friend Rachelle texted to ask if we could meet up for dinner and we decided to take advantage of the city’s variety by test driving a little Indian restaurant in Des Peres called Saffron.
We selected the restaurant primarily because of it’s location [aka half-way in between the two of us], but we knew it was the right selection when we started reading reviews on Yelp! Every single review raved about the delicious food and excellent service. Let’s just say… even before ordering, we were excited.
Now, I’ll be honest, I love Indian food, but I’m not a “connoisseur” of it or anything. Most of the menu seemed rather foreign and so Rachelle and I ordered with our gut instinct and went with what sounded the best (and least threatening). This consisted of Chicken Pakora, Chicken Madras, and of course, some Naan–which is a traditional Indian bread.
The naan and the chicken pakora arrived first, as they are part of the appetizer family. We choose the garlic cheese naan [because what isn't better stuffed with mozzarella cheese?] and it was delicious! It came with a creamy white yogurt sauce that added a nice, sweet moisture to the dish (which is naturally a little dry–as you would expect leavened bread to be).
The chicken pakora was also very good–but not exactly what we expected. It was basically chunks of chicken marinated in chickpea batter and spices and then fried. I think that the friend appearance threw us off; but they turned out to be very good. The dish is served with three different sauces; one was a sweet and sour sauce, another was mint based, and another was tomatoes, garlic, and ketchup. Our favorite was definitely the delicious and tangy sweet and sour sauce–which is funny because our waiter claimed that the mint sauce was the “crowd favorite.” [Apparently Rachelle and I are a little on the "odd" side when it comes to dipping sauces.] As for the ketchup sauce… it was surprisingly spicy, yet somehow that didn’t overpower the taste of good old Heinz Ketchup; needless to say, we mostly stuck to the sweet and sour.
Our main entree was the chicken madras, which we decided to order because the ingredients sounded so wonderful. This dish featured chicken cooked in curry leaves, coconut milk, ginger and fresh tomatoes–yum! This plate was definitely the star of the show. The meat was nice and tender, the long-grain rice was cooked perfectly, and the medium heat curry left us sweating a bit, but not gulping down water. It was sensational.
All in all, the meal was fabulous, the restaurant was cute, the service was attentive but not overbearing, and the price was just right at about $15 a person. In fact, I would even be so bold to say that this was the most pleasant Indian food experience that I have had in St. Louis. SO, you should definitely check it out and let me know what you think!