It always seems to me that tonnes of my friends' birthdays coalesce around this time of the year. Where my usual thing is to whinge about being home and bored on a Saturday night, these few weeks are chockas with money-draining events of one kind or another.
I was consulted-upon recently to recommend a restaurant for my uni friend's birthday. The task was to find somewhere that was a bit different but acceptable to the masses, had parking and wasn't too expensive. These tasks aren't to be sneezed at. I did a figurative run-around researching potential hotspots before suggesting Himalayan Cafe.
That rec was well received but unfortunately they were undergoing renovations at the time of the party so arrangements were made to go to Zafron instead. I had actually heard of Zafron before so it was a convenient alternative.
Is it bad that at these social outings, I'm sometimes more interested in the venue than the actual event??
Anyway... due to unexpected circumstances (translates to: 'poor time management'), I got to Zafron about an hour late and everyone had already ordered. This wasn't going to be an issue since I wasn't planning to order food. As shocking as that might seem for a food blogger, I was legitimately sick that day. However, a waitress informed me that I had to order something. I asked if this was allowed to be an entree and she said 'yes' so I chose a salad from the entree menu. It ended up being about the same size/price as a main menu item anyway...
Zafron has an outdoor dining space as well as tables situated inside. A clear divider separates these spaces. There's a glass window behind which you can see the skewers of meat cooking on the flame. Mmm... The environment is homely, chatty and casual. Nice for a small dinner party.
The first thing I got was a drink. I opted for one of the 2 cold items that claimed to be 'Persian'. It was described as a pomegranate juice and actually tasted pretty good. Reminded me of Chinese prune juice and like prune juice, was unexpectedly very refreshing.
As for food, I sort of went around the table and snapped photos of everyone's plates. At the time, I asked what they had ordered but some people forgot and out of those who remembered, I then forgot. So... suffice to say that I did my best applying name to photo but please allow a margin of error.
Mediterranean salad - mixed greens with roast capsicum, red onion, caramelized beetroot, chargrilled eggplant, feta and olives topped with chargrilled lamb fillet
I ordered the lamb salad which was quite a generous serving size considering it was labeled as an entree. The lamb was tender and flavorsome but I'd like to have more (being the greedy meat eater that I am). I loved the chunks of roast beetroot. Otherwise, the salad was quite ordinary.
Chicken kufteh - pan-fried meatballs of chicken and Middle-Eastern spices in a tangy tomato and almond sauce served with saffron rice
The chicken kufteh was well-received by my friend who ordered it. The dish resembled (what he describes as) a large fried rice with cranberry jam stirred through. Apparently the flavors were nice though.
House specialty chello kebab - flame-charred kebabs and accompaniments incl chicken breast and lamb fillet marinated with saffron, yogurt and herbs, served with saffron rice, Persian yogurt and mixed salad
The birthday boy ordered the chello kebab. I thought the serving looked small but I think the taste itself was quite good. It came with a few accompaniments.
Other dishes that people ordered (these look similar so I really have no idea):
The overall impression of Zafron was that it wasn't bad but wasn't really standout either. In other words, meh. The service was pretty good and we ended up being the last table to finish before the place shut. The owners were lovely about it and joked about us camping over and getting breakfast the next morning.
In terms of food, I heard many claim they would've liked more spice in their dishes. The menu was quite pricing considering that serving sizes weren't large and also that Zafron is quite a casual dining environment. Zafron does have a lot of special deals though so it probably works out quite well if you take advantage of those (check out their website for more info).