Saffron’s Buffet in Ashburn Not Hum-Drum
Eating at a buffet is a lot like meeting your favorite celebrity. Expectations are usually unreasonably high, the excitement palatable, but the reality almost always falls pathetically flat of the imagination. Yet still, we find ourselves hopeful that the smorgasbord in question will exceed all of our wildest hopes and dreams. And on occasion, it comes pretty close.
Saffron Indian Cuisine, unassumingly nestled in an Ashburn mini-mall, does just that. I am not the only one who is a fan of Saffron’s lunch offerings — the place was packed to the brim. After dining here, it’s easy to see why the place was a bustle of activity. In addition to the more typical dishes associated with Indian fare, Saffron packs an extra punch for diners that’s more unexpected and exciting than your typical hum-drum buffet.
With about nine hot buffet items to choose from and two desserts, there was a lot to look at making pacing and self-restraint a necessity. The rice options included a lemon basmati rice, a spicy toasted rice with hot dried pepeprs and a chicken biryani. Aloo tikki, a warm spiced lentil cake with it’s crisp exterior and creamy center, was beautifully paired with the bright cool chickpea salad.
The curries were both classic and unexpected, all delivering the spicy punch you yearn for in Indian cuisine. While the butter chicken was rather plain, the goat curry was sticky, fatty and rich with deep spicy notes. The paneer (spinach) was buttery and creamy, the korma (almond and coconut milk) toasty and sweet with hot tropical notes. Light and airy kulcha, reminiscent of yeasty pillows, were an unexpected extra, along with the more traditional yet always satisfying naan.
Saffron is flush with options to decorate an already scrumptious meal as diners are invited to ladle on sweet and smoky tamarind sauce, or vibrant and sour chutney. Desserts included a vermicelli pudding laced with cardamom, and gajar halway, a steaming sweetened carrot dish that was my favorite of the two.
The place was packed by lunchtime, the line out the door. Although worth the wait, save yourself the heartache and come early and hungry.
Saffron Indian Cuisine, 43170 Southern Walk Plaza, Suite 108, Ashburn, serves its lunch from 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and from noon-3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. An a la carte dinner menu is served from 5-10 p.m. daily.
Diana Veseth-Nelson is a self-described food fanatic. Unrelenting in her pursuit of fabulous food, her current favorites include roasted guinea pig from a local Salvadorean crockpot and truffled popcorn — although she cautions against pairing them together.