I have always been a bit apprehensive about these fancy modern Indian restaurants after being stung so many times in the past by small portions and a pretentious wine bar type atmosphere. I'm a traditionalist you see, a sucker for chintzy carpets, tacky décor and those all important booths. Zaaffran is a relative newcomer to the South Liverpool dining scene. Facing stiff competition from its neighbouring rivals Millon and Sekander, plus the fact that from the outside, it just looks like every other bar in the street, will it meet Vindaloo Queen's expectations?
Saturday night and stone empty- this wasn't a good sign but to be honest, it was freezing out. At least I managed to bagsy the solitary booth down the back! Despite being empty, the staff were friendly and didn't rush me or make inappropriate small talk like some other places (Yes Spice City, I mean you.) I was delighted to see they offered mocktails! A collective nod of approval from all us teetotallers. I tried this kiwi and aloe vera based mocktail. At £3.99 it was a bit pricey but it made a great photo on my Instagram!
To start, I feasted on popadoms. They weren't greasy like the usual pops and the dips didn't taste mass produced either. The chutney tray was a different take on the usual choice of 4- it consisted of a chili with onion, a mint yogurt and a spicy orange chutney. Delicious!
The main event was this Jeera Aloo at approx. £6- it's about time restaurants realised they were overcharging for veggie dishes, can't complain at this bargain price! I had it with a generous portion of brown pilau rice- not the usual coloured rice. The spuds were nicely marinated in a chili based sauce infused with coriander and parsley. A simple yet filling meal, spicy without being a ringburner.
The dessert menu looked extensive but I couldn't move so settled for coffee instead. The coffee was potent and they had a real coffee machine! About time the curry houses cottoned on to the fact that instant won't suffice in a classy establishment any more. Zaaffran is a great example of how Indian restaurants are keeping up with the times and paying more attention to quality, presentation and that all important after dinner coffee. Modern without being all nouvelle cuisine and scrimping on portion size. I'll still make my occasional trips to the UNI and Royal Tandoori though. Some things never change!
The good- great drinks menu and a mix of old classics and new, more adventurous curries
The bad- hard pressed to say! Ok.. the heating was rather stifling. My only minus point.