Saffron in Chapel Hill, NC
Finally got around to trying Saffron. We went on a wet, Wednesday evening to find it pleasantly full of diners. Maybe it was the 1/2 off bottles of wine on Wednesdays. This is by far the most attractive Indian restaurant in the Triangle. You feel like you've stepped into a small Indian palace.
For apps I have the alu chole tikki chaat and my wife had the tomatar shorba. My chaat was okay but I much prefer the renditions at 1) Kebab and Curry House in Durham or Cool Breeze in Cary. The shorba was a creamy, tomato soup that had lovely spice to it. For entrees we ordered the tandoori mixed grill, baigan pasanda, and kofta malai curry. The tandoori was fine but nothing special. The kotfa malai curry had a rich, creamy curry with a hint of saffron. They were generous with the curry gravy but were parsimonious with the koftas, only providing two the size of golf balls. The highlight was the baigan (eggplant) dish. It was roasted, mashed eggplant is a spicy, tomato curry. The fried disks of eggplant on top distract and make it harder to eat but still a solid thumbs up. This dish had a good amount of heat, one of the few dishes on the menu with spice. I have a feeling that to accommodate the high proportion of elderly diners that live nearby they spice their foods modestly. If you like your food spicy make sure to tell the waiter of your preference.
The service fell short. The waiter was nice but he forgot to bring the onion kulcha and then forgot to take it off the bill. That aside, if atmosphere and a dining "experience" is of utmost importance, Saffron is your place. But if a more casual, moderately priced Indian dinner is what you're looking for I'd got to Vimala's Curryblossom Cafe or Cholanad instead.