Saffron Lounge by Vineet Bhatia

Indian restaurant in Katara, Doha’s new Cultural Village Reviews

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We made it to the Saffron Lounge through the myriad of replica lanes that Cultural Village is famous for, and it really is a rather surreal experience. The restaurant benefits from being toward the back of Cultural Village and sits along the promenade close to the beach. In terms of location, it doesn’t get much better.

Without a booking I nonchalantly walked in and asked for a table for two. The inside of the Saffron Lounge is a curious mix of art deco and something belonging to the ’70s. Chandeliers are numerous; there is an out-of-place bar, a waiting area which doubles as a tea lounge, and a red golden glow eminating from the wallpaper and lighting, which all combine for a strange yet friendly ambience. After a short wait, our friendly host arrived to guide us to our table on the other side of the restaurant.

‘Is this ladies night?’ asked my guest as we were both settling in to our high-sided chairs. I looked around and indeed it seemed that apart from one other man, happily tucking in, we were the only gentlemen in a busy restaurant.

Saffron Lounge could never be accused of having too few waiters; before our water had arrived we were asked four times by three different staff if we wanted still or sparkling. Our own waiter, who was wonderful, gave us the drinks menu and departed. I ordered a kesari nimbu with mint, which I have to admit I was none too keen on. There was a sourness which prevented me from finishing my drink. My companion chose a kesari khaas lassi, the yoghurt and spices making for a unusual taste that may not be for everyone. As with the other restaurants in Katara, Saffron Lounge serves almost as an introduction for the type of cuisine it represents. Food is straightforward, but done well – Michelin Star Indian chef Vineet Bhatia is the man behind the menu.

As a result we have dishes from India’s north, east, south and west; in fact, we found it so hard to choose that we both went for the gourmet set menu at QR205 per head. The five-course meal seemed excellent value, but genuinely the difficulty we had in choosing a starter and main course left us little option but to cop out and take the easy route, sampling a number of dishes that could be bought separately elsewhere on the menu.

First up was a chickpea soup that was incredible – not a word often used to describe such a dish, but the blend of spices that provided a complex flood of flavour rather than an overpowering heat left us impressed. Next to test the senses was the Saffron kebab platter, which combined sauryiyani jhingha (prawn), hariyali murgh tikka (chicken in a green minty sauce), a lamb dish and also tandoori broccoli, all excellent. The chicken in particular proved a highlight, its succulence and minty seasoning an impressive combination.

I was looking forward to the main course, fully aware that there was a chicken dish on the way, and if it was anything like the last one it would be the epitome of excellence. After a few minutes the new course arrived – nariyal jhinga (prawns poached in coconut-chilli masala) for my guest, murgh makhani (a chicken tikka variation) for me, a side of jeera aloo (fried, seasoned potatoes) and avadi dum parda biryani (aromatic lamb biryani baked under a flaky pastry crust).

The chicken was a far superior dish to the prawns, which I found slightly over cooked, however they were still quite good. Along with the chicken, the lamb biryani was gorgeous, tender and full of flavour. The baked pastry on top, and the fruit and nuts cooked with the rice, were an excellent complement. The desserts, however, I did not really enjoy, but this may depend on your opinion towards ghee. As a result, for this reviewer, it was the one part of an otherwise delightful meal that fell flat.

But overall the Saffron Lounge is a fabulous experience. It is very reasonably priced, with excellent renditions of classic Indian dishes. And the selection of teas offered in the neigbouring lounge rounded off the evening perfectly.

The bill (for two)
2x gourmet set menu QR410
1x kesari khaas lassi
QR27
1x kesari nimbu QR22
1x water QR22
2x gourmet tea QR67
Total (incl charges)
QR548

By Time Out Doha staff
Time Out Doha,

Time Out reviews restaurants anonymously and pays for meals. Of course, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or independence of user reviews.

Details

  • Location: West Bay, Doha
  • Tel: 4408 0808
  • Travel: Katara

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User reviews:

Posted by: Jitendra More on 07 Nov ' 14 at 06:23

I with my family had visited on 5 November 2014.The taste is good but quantity per plate does not justify the Unit price @ QAR 66 of plate of Butter chicken with Makhani Gravy and Murgh Kadhai.

Bedisdes,your waiter offered me drinking water @ QAR 22 which is unfair. You should make alternative water available @ QAR 6 - 10 per large bottle.

Please note that your speciality is food and not water!!!

Therefore as an Indian I would recommend to increase the quantity of food per plate and make drinking water available @ above mentioned price so that we become your loyal customers.

Posted by: Laine on 02 May ' 13 at 07:02

Woot woot!!...Congratulations Saffron Lounge!....

Posted by: naved on 28 Mar ' 13 at 12:39

very bad experience

Posted by: Joe Abou Jaoude on 23 May ' 11 at 13:03

Congratulations, Really you deserve the Awards

Posted by: wajdy on 18 May ' 11 at 10:59

Saffron lounge the best Restaurant In Qatar
Congratulations

Posted by: areef on 05 May ' 11 at 10:33

Wow. Only the best award for all the big hotels. Looks like the big ones are congratulating themselves

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