You can’t really miss Saffron Kitchen. It’s a huge building, almost next to the Hare and Hounds pub in Lea Bridge Road. It looks like it’s a function room for weddings and so on – and I think it once was – but it’s now a fully fledged restaurant. And an innovative one at that.
I went early – around 6pm – with one of the daughters who also likes spicy food. It was almost empty when we arrived; leaving two hours later, it was full, with a queue snaking outside.So what of the food? We stuck to two favourites and on this occasion didn’t try the curries, although from what I saw at other tables, they looked the real deal. We started with a mixed chaat platter. This contained enough for at least two, including tasty popular streetfood snacks like pani puri, bhel puri, dahi puri and channa papid chaat. I loved them all, not least because I’m a sucker for the sweet kick of tamarind. At just under a tenner, a bargain we thought.
We then moved on to the classic mixed grill. A sizzling tray of lamb chops, seekh kebab, a chicken tikka trio and tandoori chicken for £14.95. As tender, spicy and flavoursome as I’ve had anywhere – and I’ve had plenty in Whitechapel in the past; you’ll probably know where I mean. We accompanied it with a couple of equally fine naans.
It’s alcohol-free and you can’t BYO. There’s ample car parking on what was the old football ground at the back, although it get’s crowded later in the evening. And alongside Indian food (it’s Indian owned), they do an electic mix of dishes including Kofta Bolognese.
Overall? A real find if you like the real thing.
Alan Wells OBE is Chair of the Corporation of Sir George Monoux 6th Form College in north-east London.