Saffron Valley: East India Cafe

Saffron Valley Sign

For those of you who had been to The Pagoda in the Avenues, you know that it was a great place with exquisite food. About 3 years ago, The Pagoda changed hands and the new hands couldn’t make it work. Enter Saffron Valley.

With a location in South Jordan, Saffron Valley was poised to make the leap and expand to the Avenues; bringing great food back to the Pagoda location. They bill themselves as “taking Indian cuisine to a new culinary level while still holding true to its traditional roots.”

Garlic Naan

Garlic Naan

If you are there for lunch, enjoy the delicious buffet. It’s the best of Indian home style cooking, restaurant favorites and street foods of India. Regular items include Chicken Tikka Masala, Coconut Korma and Vindaloo. There are many other dishes, all worth a taste. They first time that I had the lunch buffet, I could barely move after. Self discipline did not play a role that day.

I was invited to join them for dinner and was overwhelmed by the selection. “What will I do? I want everything” was my thinking. Thankfully Kannan, the wonderful manager at the Avenues location, helped me pick some things out. He brought reason back into the equation and he was the perfect person to do it. Having run restaurants in India, he knows the food better than most. Both his Father and Grandfather had restaurants so he grew up in the business.

Toddy Shop Fry

Toddy Shop Fry

We began with one of the “Street Food Starters.” He recommended the Toddy Shop Fry. You have your choice of fried shrimp, calamari or sardines; all in their special spiceblend. I went with fried shrimp. That delicious, plump shrimp was coated in a colorful breading; it almost glowed. There was a hint of spice but what I was most impressed with was the quality of shrimp. It made everything else that I have had (which I thought was good), lower on the scale. These were perfect for dipping in their Mint and Tamarind Chutneys.

Arriving right around the same time as the Shrimp Toddy Shop Fry was the Garlic Naan. It was thick with a crusty exterior, soft interior and a powerful but not overwhelming aroma of garlic. It was this aroma that hits you as you get out of your car. I’m sure people walking buy who were not hungry at all, would immediately find room to eat once they smelled this aroma. The Garlic Naan was delicious by itself; but even better dipped in the Tamarind Chutney.

Three-Saag Curry

Three-Saag Curry

For the entree I was torn between a selection of delicious Wraps, Dosas, Curries and Clay Oven Grilled Kabobs. With Kannan expert guidance, I chose the Three-Saag Curry with Lamb. It’s a light & delicious sauce made with mustard, swiss chard & spinach; served with steamed basmati rice.

The lamb was near perfect, okay it probably was perfect. It was incredibly tender and a beautiful medium rare. That Three-Saag Curry was smooth and coated your mouth. Anything made with butter and cream will do that. I ordered it with a spice level of medium and that was plenty hot. Either it was the delicious lamb or smooth curry sauce that made this dish hit the top of the charts; maybe it was both.

Dessert was Warm Gulab Jamun with vanilla ice cream. I wasn’t sure that I could eat any more, but just the sight of these spongy dough balls soaked in syrup was enough for me to make room. It’s like a thick, doughy scone with a lot of cream and flavor. Even the ice cream had a hint of spice.

Warm Gulab Jamun

Warm Gulab Jamun

There are some great Indian Restaurants in Salt Lake. Before eating at Saffron Valley, I thought that I had found the best Indian Food. After eating there, the bar has been raised. They are wonderful in every aspect.

If you want to try cuisines from the different regions of India, they have a buffet every Sunday that does just this. Whether regional buffet, weekday lunch buffet or a dinner with many spectacular options, I will see you there soon.

Happy Eating

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