THIS restaurant has gone through a few name changes in recent years and its latest incarnation is Saffron.
Now it’s run by a family who own another Indian restaurant in north Wales and they’ve come up with a canny marketing ploy that means it’s especially busy at weekends.
In short, they’re offering a five course meal for £9.50 – but whereas most of these special offers are from a set menu you can choose anything from their menu for this with a slight extra charge if your tastebuds are lusting after a king prawn or lamb shank dish.
So that’s poppadoms and chutneys followed by a starter, then a main dish and pilau rice or a naan – including specials such as chilli dhanya naan – and rounded off with tea or coffee. And the coffee comes with cream.
You can’t knock its value. After all, most mains on the menu are around £7.
This special runs all the time and you can even get it as a takeaway for two for £14.95.
It’s a smart restaurant inside with a spacious feel. There’s a big bar and waiting area as you go in with a large – some would say bold – patterned wallpaper on one wall and the restaurant itself has comfy brown leather seats with cream tablecloths. A brave choice with so much curry around.
There are dishes on the menu – under the Chef’s Signature Collections – we’d not come across before. Garlic devotees may found themselves drawn by the South Indian garlic chilli chicken – chicken cooked with spices, fresh green herbs, garlic and green chillies in a medium sauce.
The warning on the menu could not be clearer: “Specially for those who love a hot garlic taste.”
Then there’s Heera Mixed Biryani – chicken tikka, lamb tikka, garlic chicken and king prawn stir-fried with spices and rice, served with a light omelette, salad and curry sauce. A light omelette? With all that heavy curry around. That’s got to be worth a look at some point.
Or how about Bual Biran – boneless fillet of bangle fish lightly spiced and shallow fried in olive oil then cooked in onions, tomatoes, garlic and whole green chillies.
But perhaps the most unusual of the lot has to be Chicken Zafrani – whole chicken breast filet stuffed with spicy minced lamb, cooked in chef’s special sauce and garnished with green herbs.
So we’re clear now that Saffron dares to be different, although there’s the traditional curries such as bhuna, madras, dansak, korma and balti for those feeling a little less adventurous. Beware the Fire Eater too as that’s the gauntlet thrown down to those who feel they can handle a vindaloo and beyond. On the menu four stars is classed as “very hot”. This has five stars and is classed as “extremely hot”. In Indian menu terms this is akin to a Government health warning.
So we began with a large, crispy poppadums and a generous pickle tray with four accompaniments – raitha, red onions, mango chutney and a chilli pickle. Cracking accompaniments, especially when you think what you’re paying. It was so good we kept the pickle tray for the starters and mains.
Starters include the usual suspects such as onion bhaji, sheek kebab, chicken or lamb tikka, samosas and shami kebab.
My prawn puri was small prawns, onions and curry sauce that came medium spiced – but there’s also a king prawn option. Lemon was the not-so secret ingredient in this one. Ruth’s aloo chat was spicy potato in with a similar mix and a neatly diced salad. Solid enough starters.
My mains was the Thawa Special giving the chef chance to flex his culinary signature as it includes chicken tikka, lamb tikka and garlic chicken with fried peppers and onions. Not sure how it happened, but a small tandoori lamb chop ended up in the mix too.
The lamb chop’s also a starter option and on this showing I’ll have that next time. The flavour was dominated by tomato and onion and the meat – both the lamb and the chicken – were tender. It was a medium dish with pretensions towards the hot.
Ruth’s Chicken Jaflong was classed as hot... and met its criteria with some ease. It was spring chicken cooked with green chillies, garlic, green pepper, spring onion, star aniseed, zeera and dhanya in a medium sauce garnished with lemon and red onions. Not surprisingly, with all that lot in the mix it’s a robust dish which had a slightly sour taste – surprising really as it didn’t have any yoghurt in it.
The pilau rice was fine and the other sundry was a peshwari naan – probably the only disappointment on the night. It had a sweet red centre – which you’d expect – but also had strange gritty texture. Perhaps it had been in too long. It’s the only thing we didn’t finish.
So the Saffron delivered what it promised – a good meal at a brilliant price without the cost-cutting that you’ll find on some set menus.
Service was attentive, pleasant and quick.Staff said it gets busy at the weekends with some Colne Valley devotees steadily working their way through the entire menu. At that price, who can blame them?
1024 Manchester Road, Linthwaite, HD7 5QQ
Tel 01484 847524
Opening hours 5pm-11pm Monday to Thursday; 5pm to midnight Friday and Saturday; 4pm to 10.30pm on Sunday.
Disabled access Yes and toilet
The bill £24.60 including drinks
Would you go back? Certainly for that price