It’s hard for us to believe we haven’t done a blog about Cafe Saffron in Ivanhoe yet, especially since we’ve been going there for over a decade! Oops! 😛 Let me get right to it! In appearance, it’s a standard suburban Indian restaurant: basic tables & chairs, awkward layout, some exotic decor on the walls, and a semi-foggy (?) window to the tandoori chef lair – in sum, it needs a refresh. But in saying all that, these guys always seem to fill their double-wide dining room (that swallows up two shop fronts), whenever we’re here – and that’s saying something!
We skipped entrees this night and went straight for the mains. We ordered Chandani Gobhi with cooked cauliflower and potatoes, dancing around with some peas, segments of spring onion, tomatoes and fresh coriander. Although it did have some sauce, the amount of it leaned more towards a drier curry. It had a nice little “hit the back of your throat” kick to it, which as great.
As we progressively emptied out the copper server bowl, we were a bit bummed by the presence of a tablespoon or two of oil at the bottom. It was sad because we couldn’t scoop up the rest of that solid robust flavour for fear of upsetting our tummies, but that little bit of oil it wouldn’t stop us from getting it again.
We always get some Garlic Naan – even if we don’t have room for it. These little fluffy soldiers were perfectly cooked and wore their blobs of garlic like badges of honour! The bread was soft and crispy in all the right spots. Yum!
Hubby Bear’s eyes widened with the arrival of the generous Half Serve of Tandoori Chicken on its sizzling platter. The morsels of orange-coloured chicken were accompanied with a beautiful mint chutney (delicious and fresh!) and raw slices of capsicum and red onion. The chicken pieces were flawlessly marinated with that classic tangy tandoori seasoning and cooked just right. Two thumbs up!
Everything was going soooooo good until we dipped our naans into that deep, rich red-coloured Paneer Makhani. Maybe our palettes are changing? Maybe a different chef made it this night? Or maybe we didn’t order the right paneer curry? All we knew was that the sauce was more sugary-sweet than buttery-creamy. So much so, we tried to avoid having the sauce altogether by digging out all the cubes of paneer (which are like chunks of solid cottage cheese) to eat with our rice. A real shame for us!
The service was incredibly attentive and smiling – despite there being a little mix-up in the kitchen with our order. Along with their food, their easy and friendly manner has been a big component as to why we’ve frequented this spot for so many years. Although the paneer curry let us down, it might hit your taste buds just right, so don’t let our opinions of that one curry turn you off. We’ve had enough from their menu over the years to know they produce solid, consistent Indian food – if you’re in the area, give them a go!
Address: 238-240 Upper Heidelberg Road, Ivanhoe VIC 3079
Tip! This road is pretty busy, so if you can’t find a street park, just try the library car park opposite the restaurant, or dive into one of the lots behind the building.