“I like when you said you were having fun because that describes this dining experience perfectly,” said Lindsey, our waitress at Saffron Table, Bozeman’s new restaurant serving contemporary South Asian cuisine.
Walking into the restaurant feels like being invited into someone’s home. It’s quaint, small and warm — chic, but casual enough to meet friends for a drink at the bar, or bring a date for an interesting meal.
I had never ordered Indian cuisine with a guest who doesn’t like curry — my dining partner had never enjoyed the dish — but Lindsey was accommodating. She told us about the Wild Caught Fish of the Day, which happened to be a curry-free black cod dish. She even went back to the kitchen to ask about details. “Curry sauces bought in stores are westernized spices,” she said, adding that “all the spices we use here are spices and recipes developed from family recipes.” According to the chef, the curries at Saffron Table are fresher and more authentic. Lindsey said, “All the dishes here are a blend of south Asia: India, Pakistan. The owner is from Pakistan and she brought a lot of the recipes with her.”
We finally settled on the Wild Caught Fish of the Day and Mama’s Chicken Curry with an order of garlic naan and a hot chai latte. I could live off that naan and chai for weeks.
Shortly after, our meals arrived. The black cod sat atop a southern Indian style sauce – which I just about licked out of the bowl after giving it a small taste. While I’m no expert on curries, Mama’s Chicken Curry was one of the most subtle flavors and delicious dishes I’ve had.
We were so pleased with the meal that when it came time for dessert, it was impossible to pass up. We ordered the chocolate samosas and strawberry and mango sorbet. Unfortunately, they were out of the strawberry sorbet. According to Lindsey, the strawberries they use are local organic berries, but the season has slowed down and they didn’t have any coming in. She said, “The mangoes come in special from India,” so we got two scoops of the mango instead of the usual one of mango and one of strawberry.
The chocolate samosa dessert had just about every flavor you might want in a dessert. The light pastry was filled with a bitter chocolate. Used to only sweet chocolates, the bitter was an interesting surprise. Each pastry was accompanied by a cinnamon-dusted peach and cream cheese ice cream sat at the front of the plate, like a ring leader atop sweet chocolate crumbles, similar to graham cracker crumbs.
I had made reservations online, but at 6:30 p.m. the dining area wasn’t overly crowded and we sat right away. As the meal wrapped up around 7:30 p.m., more customers arrived. Parties sat at the bar, at the window seats and at the small individual tables. No one ever had to wait, and coats were checked at the door.
The atmosphere, the service and the carefully prepared food will bring me back to Saffron Table soon — even if I only eat naan and drink chai tea. The prices are a bit high for the average college student ($15-$30), but it makes for a great date or family visit, and the tastes are worth the prices.
Saffron Table is open Tuesday through Saturday from 5 p.m. until close (variable) and is located at 1511 S Babcock Ave, Suite A — next door to The Roost.