The Saffron was the first of a wave of upmarket Indian restaurants in Bedford, adopting the now traditional trendy hair salon look - this time in bright shades of yellow. Our drink orders were taken in the waiting area where we were also pleased to see 2 large bowls of Bombay mix. We only had time to grab a quick handful before we were shown to our table. Popadoms and condiments were already on the table, free of charge, which is a nice touch (if only all restaurants and takeaways would follow suit). The music started off badly with some scratchy stuff from the 1930's, and then went downhill with Phil Collins's album No Jacket Required!
As this was our first visit, custom dictated that we should have onion bhaji starters. These consisted of 2 large flat discs with plenty of salad to fill the large plate. They were slightly too thin and had become crunchy. Although they contained plenty of fennel, they were not particularly tasty. Two large sheek kebabs, reasonably spicy and quite flavoursome, arrived on sizzler with plenty of onions. Both starters came with plenty of salad. Red onions and mint splatter were supplied; the latter could have been better.
The huge portion of Chicken Pathia had a chunk of lime on the top, plenty of well-cooked, tender chicken. Its sauce had a twang to it, but could have been spicier. Nevertheless, it was enjoyable. Unconventionally, the chicken tikka Bhuna arrived already served on the plate, with a side salad. Another good-sized portion with a tasty thick sauce. The Chicken Dopiaza arrived in conventional style and for once the think, gunky gravy was rammed full of onions. Perfection. For the first time in living memory, the keema nan's filling occupied most of the nan, it was a bit pink in a few places but this caused no bad side effects. The garlic nan itself was good, if a little inconsistent in its thickness, with the garlic butter melted on top, although only noticeable on one half. The plain nan was once again near perfect keeping it's fluffy texture to the last crumb.
Service at Saffron was excellent. The food arrived promptly and we weren't made to wait long between courses. Despite items like the starters and main courses appearing relatively expensive, the free popadoms and cheap nan breads made the final price of £13 a head extremely reasonable.
Which gives an overall rating of 4 bhajis.