I’m a lucky girl. I spend a lot of time in pubs, bars and restaurants; as a freelance people consultant, my clients are predominantly in the hospitality sector.
A top perk of my job is being invited to new openings and sample the delights on offer. It is, quite possibly, the only aspect in which I can involve my husband and show him an insight into my fabulous world.
Yesterday, I was invited to an exciting new Indian restaurant opening in Chessington. Saffron Summer is looking to bring a fine dining Indian experience to Surrey with modern twists on traditional cuisine. Executive Chef, Awanish Roy, is ex-Cinnamon Club and will be serving up Wild Boar Vindaloo and Guinea Fowl Banjara dishes to name but a few. No longer will you need to travel to London or pay London premiums for a taste of Indian Haute Cuisine!
I won’t lie. I was a bit excited.
Hubby and I set off on the first leg of our 240 mile round trip in the most apocalyptic of weather. It was so dark, you would be forgiven if you thought it was late evening. The sheer force of the rain and hail made driving treacherous. He gave me “that” look as if to say “really, are we actually doing this?” I smiled and chatted away hoping that the evening ahead would absolutely fill us with joy.
We love food and have travelled extensively to sample the delights of both the once in a lifetime restaurants and, the more accessible, local greats. The high street is a wonderful place for awesome casual dining and some of the destination Gastro restaurants are on a par with with some of the best Michelin food I’ve eaten. And I’ve eaten out of this world starred food.
We arrived to a fizz reception and, upon chatting to the team, understood that, to kick the evening off, the Chef’s would be sharing with us some authentic street food live. This meant we were up close and personal seeing the Chef prepare our food whilst explaining the ingredients and method of cooking.
Stunningly, delicious Gol Gappa. A semolina puff filled with chickpea and you pour the delightfully fresh liquor into the puff and pop it into your mouth in one go. Loved the theatre of this. The Bhel Puri gave you an explosion of different flavours with every mouthful; made from puffed rice, chopped carrot, cucumber and onion, coriander, tamarind sauce, chilli and garlic sauce, mint and coriander sauce and garnished with pomegranate, bombay mix and spiced powder. The Dhai Puri was a subtle combination of spiced chickpea and potato enhanced with tamarind sauce and sweet yoghurt, coriander and lemon.
What a start. We have travelled extensively in Asia, and are partial to a curry from our favourite Indian restaurant, but this was different. Recognisable flavours but in dishes I’ve never tried before.
Next up were the canapés.
Grilled Chicken Tikka, Lamb Seekh Kebab in Rumali Roti, Aloo Bonda and Prawns in Pappadums. Simply, divine!
The next dish was an absolute first for me. I have never been brave enough to try a Vindaloo but I am sure glad I did. Saffron Summer’s Wild Boar Vindaloo was so tasty and the heat was a creeper. Three or four mouthfuls in and you start to get the glow. And it builds. It doesn’t hit you in the face, like you might expect. We would definitely go back for this dish alone. The Lamb Biryani didn’t pack as much flavour, or have as much lamb, as I thought it might but it was a welcome balance to the Vindaloo.
The food was extremely good. The team who looked after us were exceptional. We experienced genuine care for our enjoyment, they shared their knowledge of the dishes and were extremely passionate. This was evident at every table throughout the evening. Listening to other guest’s comments, they enjoyed it, just as much as we did.
It is fair to say that you can expect a fabulous mix of modern twists and authentic classics from Saffron Summer.
The restaurant officially opens tomorrow, Thursday 19th May, and I wish the team every success. Hubby and I are both in agreement that we would quite happily make the 240 mile round trip again.
Saffron Summer – Haute Indian Cuisine, 4 Ace Parade, Hook Road, Chessington, Surrey, KT9 1DR