One of the most anticipated openings of the summer is here: Saffron NOLA is now open on Magazine Street.
The modern Indian restaurant (4128 Magazine St., 504-323-2626) opened quietly last week and held its grand opening on Aug. 10.
The Vilkhu family, garnered a following for its long-running Friday night-only dinners at its restaurant on Gretna Boulevard. The new restaurant also is a family affair, but it is open for dinner and Sunday brunch, with lunch service likely will follow.
They have renovated the space formerly occupied by Tryst and before that Saveur, Glowing lights imbue warm tones, and a long backlit bar stretches the length of the restaurant leading back to an open kitchen. Chef Arvinder Vilkhu helms the stoves, turning out beautiful Indian dishes incorporating local flavors and cooking styles culled from time spent in France, Thailand, Singapore and China.
Giant silver platters of buttery roasted oysters are topped with caramelized onions and garlic and served with fluffy naan. The house charcuterie board features a garlicky pork kebab, truffled naan, chicken pate, a spicy pickled shrimp dish and creamy eggplant spread.
The menu is divided into smaller plates and larger spreads of roti sathi, or “companions” for the soft flatbread, including a royal paneer made with the soft Indian cheese, tomato curry, greens and cashews. There also is a cauliflower dish heavy with spice and turmeric.
Larger dishes include a bone-in goat masala served with basmati rice, a spice-crusted Gulf fish with curd rice, korma sauce and mango pickle, and pork vindaloo served in a goan-style curry with rice.
Pastry chef and Willa Jean alum Cait McNamee is handling desserts, which include a selection of creative dishes brimming with exotic flavors. The Pineapple Express features a cream biscuit, star anise-roasted pineapple, passion-hibiscus foam, ginger ice cream and seasonal fruit, and the aptly-named Lime in the Coconut features a creamy coconut panna cotta topped with finger lime caviar, yuzu gel and sorghum bark. Some of the more popular deserts from the West Bank restaurant were carried over, including an Indian-style doughnut served with saffron syrup and a fig, date and praline ice cream.
Saffron NOLA is open for dinner Tuesday through Thursday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., and brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.