There are times when we literally stumble into a place and it surprises the crap out of us. Here is a perfect example. On a recent Boba Tea craving mad dash to Chewy on Orange Blossom Trail, I could not help being overwhelmed by these “Saffran” signs. On the southwestern corner of Orange Blossom Trail and Sand Lake Road intersection and all around that plaza are signs for Saffran. What is Saffron? Ooops my bad, I meant Saffran. Not to be confused with Saffron Indian Cuisine on Restaurant Row. So after hurriedly acquiring my Boba Tea, the hunt was on….
At first glance from the outside, even though there are menu postings and signs it looked like a sit down, upscale, fancy place. The signage has cool colors and modern fonts which points to poshness. Not that the place is not posh. Well at least not fine dining. Venture in and you are transformed to clean, modern, contemporary lines and colors, warm woods, high ceilings, stained concrete floors, and gigantic sized wall art. Quick counter service? Really. Yes. Greeting you through the front door is a 3 terminal ordering counter, decked out with huge visible overhead menus and lower counter level printed menus . Sounds like a fast food joint? No! Definitely not. The look and feel is definitely not Burger King nor McDonalds. Order at the counter and someone will walk the food to your table or pack it to go.
So in my blind and giddy confusion the happy attendant walked me through the whole thing. Cool dude. He told me that the menu was Icelandic Indian Healthy Choices. Screeeeech! What? Say again….Easy gentle reader, the owners have successful restaurants in Iceland serving up inspirations from European and Mediterranean food culture, mixed with traditions from the Middle East. Here is the interesting part, Saffran offers healthy, fresh, exotic, robust, flavorful and inexpensively priced food to “spice your soul and body”. They choose only quality ingredients, preferably from local producers. All bread is baked using only barley, spelt and whole wheat. They use practically no sugar (only very limited in the desserts), no white flour, no frying, and no MSG. A tandoori oven provides high heat for searing all meats. Their version of the popular Indian flatbread naan is used in their sandwiches or ‘naanwiches’ and burgers or ‘un burgers’ as replacement for regular bread. Their signature ‘Safflats’ or flatbread is made from a special crust and a wide variety of topping. When Saffran mentions locally sourced they actually take it a step further to sell only a white and red wine produced by our very own Lakeridge Winery. Orlando Brewing purveys all of their beer selection. I agree that this limits the beer and wine selection, but what a bold move on the owners part? Now that is farm to table!
On this occasion, still not so sure what to expect I settled on a Luxury Naanwich saffran chicken, Toscana ham, mozzarella, yogurt sauce, dash of chili sauce, mixed and shiraz salad. Oh my lovely, who said healthy tasted like card board? Well this was some banging card board! Outstandingly fresh meat, with bold, bright, brilliant flavors and moist, succulent texture. Greens were tender, crisp, and fresh. Since this was take out, the sauces were packed on the side. Adding a little of yogurt and tomato – chili sambal to each bite was a joy. Watch out though, the sambal has a good kick. Thankfully, I thought ahead and also got a Chocolate Mouse velvety mouse made from dark quality chocolate which was very decadent and cooled the sambal’s heat. The portion size was just right to fill my stomach without feeling overstuffed. Did I fail to mention how fast this dish was prepared and delivered. Really fast.
Great healthy alternative to the Orlando Dining scene. Food, atmosphere, and service is spot on. Healthy and local food has found a place in Orlando.