By Karimah Bint Dawoud,
Muslim chaplain & well being writer.
Saffron, Mesopotamian& Persian Cuisine, 39 Upper Berkeley Street, London W1H 5QH.
I have been wanting to go to this restaurant for ages, well months actually and I couldn’t find the details on line. Then my mechanic said he wanted to take me out and talk about coolant thermostats or the Islamic epiphany he was going through alhamduliah. He said ” you choose and we’ll go inshallah”.
I had passed this restaurant on one of my few precious trips to Green Valley , a wonderful Lebanese supermarket almost next door. I love anything to do with saffron and when I looked inside a few months ago and asked for a menu, an Islamic vibe greeted me mashallah.
Finally I was going, I put my glad rags on and off we went , dodging rain drops and puddles courtesy of the June weather in the West End of London.
First and foremost there is no alcohol, alhmdulilah. May Allah reward them inshallah.
The decoration of the restaurant is what I would call New Islamic, bold wooden walls contrasting the stark white paint, with abstract figurative vibrant colorful paintings. The colour scheme was on point, beautiful, a lovely fresh flower display was on the counter and there was vibe of clean and fresh everywhere.
The menu is diverse, 74 dishes and before eating there I was attracted to the authentic Persian dishes like Koresh Bademjaun and Qormeh Sabzi. Other restaurants like Patogh, say they are Persian but they are not really, they are Turkish with a bit of Persian salad thrown in, but Saffron really had dishes that would draw the lover of Persian cuisine.
The food was presented very well, however the cooking technique and flavour were not up to scratch, if you didn’t know Persian food like my mechanic friend , you would say it was nice.
I know Persian food, mashallah and we cook Persian food so I am not easily impressed. I spent two years of my college life with Persians and for many years my best friend was a Persian sister prior to Allah guiding me to islam.
The Ashe Reshteh soup was very nice, a herby noodle soup topped with sour yoghurt. I love this soup , the first time I had it at Ali Jalali’s house, the annual iftar he gives at his house , I fell in love with it and said I have to learn how to make this.
My friend had Koresh Bodejan, which are lamb pieces in an aubegrine and tomatoes sauce, it was terrible and would have made many a Persian mama cry, they seriously need my help and I am not even Persian.
We ordered the Sabzi Salad which has the traditional fresh mint and spring onion, feta cheese and radishes and walnut, but where was the tarragon? You cannot have Persian food without tarragon in the Sabzi Salad. Instead they had put rocket, rocket!!!! I mentioned it to the waiter who was Egyptian and he didn’t know anything about it, hmmmm.
I had the suggested lamb shank which was one of the most expensive things on the menu, it was dull and lacked any specific flavour and I took half of it home fro my cat. Apart from the soup, my favorite thing was the mint and lemonade drink, inshallah it would be great at iftar time as it was fresh , light and really hits the spot for rehydration.
I would suggest they contact me to come and do some trouble shooting, I saw too much waste going back in teh kitchen and for a restaurant with a wonderful Islamic feel and wonderful Islamic waiters and service, this waste is a great shame.