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DonRocks

Saffron, Indian in Southern Walk Plaza in Ashburn, and in the Former Curry Mantra 2 Space in Falls Church

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There has been an awning up for Saffron for a couple of weeks now. Given that they already have a restaurant in Broadlands, and that Curry Mantra 2 was in nearly turnkey shape, there shouldn't be much of a wait. Haandi can't catch a break, and maybe this time around, the competition will keep prices down: Both Haandi and Curry Mantra 2 were two of the most expensive Indian restaurants in the DC area despite being almost across the street from one another.

"Curry Mantra 2 Is Now Saffron Indian Cuisine" by Sally Cole on fcnp.com

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I ordered from the new Falls Church Saffron (they deliver through GrubHub), and unfortunately, can only find two positive things to say. However, do note that this could easily have been the primary chef's night off, so don't draw any universal conclusion from this little disaster.

Saffron has a plug-and-play curry menu where you pick your meat and pick your sauce. With thoughts of KN Vinod dancing around in the back of my mind, I ordered the Chicken Chettinad ($14). Since it was my first time eating here, I got one of my Indian standards, Palak Panner ($13, and yes that's how they spell it), and completed my order with a Paneer Kulcha ($4).

Let me start with a couple of compliments: the Kulcha was properly baked, and I suspect they might have gotten Curry Mantra 2's tandoor when they took over the restaurant. It wasn't earth-shattering, but it was correct (these breads can also be made on a griddle or a tawa, and I don't know for a fact that it's done in a tandoor, but it was pretty evenly (and properly) charred.

More importantly, the quality of the chicken meat was fantastic. The Chettinad came with a generous portion of boneless, dark meat, and I wonder if this might be Halal based on the quality of the chicken. Meat-wise, you just can't ask for anything more than this.

Okay, that said, the overriding characteristic of this meal was oil. Oil, oil, and more oil. The Chettinad was the most oily dish that I've had in a long, long time, and I ended up just picking the pieces of chicken out, and discarding the rest. Although the Palak Paneer wasn't "oily" per se, the menu said it was made with spinach, tomato, ginger, and garlic, and maybe it was, but if so, it was ridden with ginger, and had an off-putting taste as well as the impression of cheap, frozen greens. I don't know that this was frozen, but I've had several frozen versions of Palak Paneer that are much better than this (you'd be surprised how good frozen Palak Paneer can be).

The bread, while fine, seemed like more of a Naan than a Kulcha - I just couldn't find any Paneer in it at all. There may have been a sprinkling, but I looked pretty thoroughly, and didn't detect any.

Well-made Indian food is a sublime experience; poorly made Indian food is nauseating, and this meal makes me not want to have Indian anytime soon. Although I'm hoping (and assuming) that this was simply an off night for Saffron, it's going to be very difficult for me to order from here a second time - but if I do, I'm going to search the menu for a more simple recipe that uses their wonderful chicken.

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We got a menu in the mail with a coupon, so we decided to give the place a try. I thought it was good. We started with an order of Samosas, Onion Spinach Bhajia, and Palak Chaat. Each of them were pretty good. Actually, the Bhajia was great, crunchy and tasty. We got Raita to dip them in, and that was a nice added touch. The Palak Chaat was also great, even better than Curry Mantra 2, tho not near the portion size. Still, it was a good size salad and the don't skip on the accoutrements. For mains we got Butter Chicken and Chicken Dhania Korma. The Butter Chicken was the better of the two, tho some might consider the sauce too sweet. The Korma was a bit bland, and picked up with a bit of salt. An order of Onion Kulcha helped us sop up all the sauce (of which there was a lot). I did not notice the oil issues Don mentioned above. I would order from here again. In fact, they have a very good online ordering system.

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You know, for take out Indian food, this place is pretty damn good. Not much has changed, in fact, from what I wrote previously.  We also got 2 fish dishes: Mumbai Fish Curry and Goan Shrimp Curry, both of which were good, and worth ordering again. Their Palak Paneer, which we've now had several times, is also excellent. It doesn't have the char that Rasika's version does, but it's a large portion with tons of sauce.

Menu Hack: Order off the kids menu, and you'll get your choice of additional rice or bread for free. Given the amount of sauce that comes with each dish, and the likelihood you'll be getting rice with your other dishes, getting a bread for free is a good deal.

Service is also great: we placed a big order the other night (around 12 items), and they handled it with complete confidence, and didn't miss an item (they appear to check each item off as they place it in the bag). And, even tho I arrived early, they apologized for it not being ready, and offered me a drink while i waited.

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1 hour ago, Dr. Delicious said:

You know, for take out Indian food, this place is pretty damn good. Not much has changed, in fact, from what I wrote previously.  We also got 2 fish dishes: Mumbai Fish Curry and Goan Shrimp Curry, both of which were good, and worth ordering again. Their Palak Paneer, which we've now had several times, is also excellent. It doesn't have the char that Rasika's version does, but it's a large portion with tons of sauce.

My previous experiences here at the Ashburn location have been somewhat bland, though I also haven't had the oil issues Don mentioned above.  I'll have to try out these recommendations.  Very much miss the old Kababs and Curries around here that was cursed with a terrible location and has since been taken over by Suvai.  

Fair warning, while the online ordering system is advanced, delivery often takes an hour+, I believe they use a 3rd party service so it's to your advantage to pickup whenever possible.

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