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Restaurants

Saffron Spice Kitchen

Posted by Jackie Pal / Reviewed on November 3, 2013 / review policy

Saffron Spice KitchenSaffron Spice Kitchen has found a choice but super competitive lunch spot near the corner of Queen and Spadina so it's a good thing that the restaurant's owner, Chef Johnny, has a secret weapon to fall back on.

Many may be familiar with the midtown spot Esther's Soup Kitchen. During the lunch rush this place sports a massive line as hungry patrons wait to hug a bowl of the highly coveted mulligatawny. It just so happens that this "Esther" is Chef Johnny's aunt and she's been mentoring him behind the scenes about the finer aspects of the Sri Lankan and Indian cuisine that he dishes up each day.

On the menu at Saffron Spice Kitchen are crowd pleasers like butter chicken and tandoori wraps, all expertly spiced and made to order. There are also salads and other lighter fare for those looking to avoid that mid afternoon Indian induced coma at their desk. Unlike many of the other Indian restaurants that line Queen, Saffron Spice Kitchen doesn't use ghee, cream or butter in its dishes.

Saffron Spice KitchenWe decide to start with the samosa ($1.50). The crust is sweet and crispy, the filling soft and loaded with a tango of sweet and savory spiced potatoes. Sadly, a lonely single pea seemed lost without a few of its other friends.

Saffron Spice KitchenThe Thai Pumpkin soup ($4) is the special of the day, decorated with fresh bright green cilantro. The consistency is not too thick and the flavour, balanced, allowing the true taste of pumpkin to shine through.

Saffron Spice KitchenWe couldn't pass up the Kothu Roti ($7.50) which we're told is the most popular item on the menu. The roti is made fresh daily, chopped into tiny pieces and then mixed into a teppanyaki style stir fry with heavily spiced vegetables and a choice of curried chicken, lamb, seafood or egg. It's packed with flavour and texture, but leaves us panting and seeking refreshment.

Saffron Spice KitchenThankfully, we were smart to order a mango lassi ($2.50) which is not too thick and naturally sweetened.

Saffron Spice KitchenThirst quenched, we decide to close the meal with a side salad ($4.50) of spinach, purple cabbage, baby tomatoes, cucumbers and lentils. The salad dressing is a bit flat and could benefit some of the creative spicing given to the other dishes.

Saffron Spice KitchenSaffron Spice Kitchen offers their affordable lunch menu daily from 11:00am-10:00pm.

Photos by Jaana Hein

Discussion

13 Comments

jaykay / November 3, 2013 at 09:45 am
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I been here twice because I work nearby and ... WAY TOO EXPENSIVE.

You can get 4 giant samosas for $1 at almost any other place in Toronto/Scarb/Markham.

I understand that the location is DT and higher overhead costs, but the portion size of the soups and dishes are way to small. Almost felt like I was getting scammed.

Im sure hes trying to sell mostly to people who are not familiar with indian food culture (price, taste etc), but what a scam..... Give bigger portions or lower your price. I dont see this place surviving for longer than a year.

And the fruit lassi are made with fruit juice concentrate....Enough said.
Perry / November 3, 2013 at 10:04 am
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I've been there a few times now and the prices aren't even that unbearable and the food is delicious. Portion size is so overrated and the portions here are appropriate.

I'm not going to Scarborough/Markham.

The owner is incredibly friendly.
KJ / November 3, 2013 at 11:25 am
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I've ordered the kothu roti from here a few times and it amazes me!
I live in Scarborough and I've had my fair share of the dish but this place tastes just right.

I'll have to try the wraps sometime.

Price point is just right - its downtown and you would be paying the same price at food courts for similar portions.

Rick / November 3, 2013 at 12:48 pm
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The Butter Chicken good?

I am a butter chicken fan, and I always like trying different restaurants take on it.
Shawn replying to a comment from jaykay / November 3, 2013 at 09:30 pm
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You're joking, right? In this area you're looking at about $1.50 for a samosa or the few places near there that sells them; even Ali Baba's nearby offers ~$1 samosas that are around 2 inches long. You can't expect discount prices in this area. I really like the Kothu Roti here and they're very friendly, although the lamb is a bit drier than I'd like (the chicken is good, though).
lynn / November 3, 2013 at 09:44 pm
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maybe a dumb question, but if they don't use butter, how do they make butter chicken?
Shawn / November 4, 2013 at 12:31 pm
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Lynn-the two main ingredients of butter chicken should be yogurt and tomatoes. Some recipes call for butter or ghee but the name is a bit of a misnomer.
Gregory replying to a comment from jaykay / November 4, 2013 at 02:54 pm
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Too expensive? You are retarded.
Laura / November 5, 2013 at 02:16 am
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Prices are very reasonable here, you get a full meal for less than $10 and it tastes great. I work on Queen street and there's isn't any flavourful homemade food available. I love that I can see my food being made in front of me. You can't expect to pay the same price in downtown as markham/scarborough, different crowd, different quality...I'm just saying! I'm in love with their roasted beet curry..must try
gl replying to a comment from lynn / November 6, 2013 at 11:09 am
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The common version of 'butter chicken' that flourishes in North America is made with cream and tomato ketchup.
For a traditional recipe look here: http://www.sanjeevkapoor.com/butter-chicken.aspx
jeep / November 27, 2013 at 05:16 pm
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How's the seating there like? Hopefully you dont have to wait an hour or two for a table?
Randy D / April 17, 2014 at 12:53 am
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This place is gross, the food tastes like rubber. Burger Priest is 2 doors down. Much better bang for your buck.
Redka / October 11, 2014 at 05:54 pm
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This place is amazing. Hands down the best Southern Indian takeout in the downtown area. Prices quite reasonable. Don't expect Scarborough prices when you aren't in Scarborough people.

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