How many times has a restaurant lured you with World Cuisine only to serve you the same old Indian, Chinese or Italian? Rajat Bigghe hesitantly entered Saffron Soul, but ended up enjoying his trip around the world in 80 bites.
Step into Marigold Hotel and there in the centre of its lobby stands Saffron Soul, almost as if on a pedestal. And there are no walls that stop you from watching over the world go by (metaphorically speaking given the foreign nationals that check into this hotel). The restaurant itself looks and feels like a regular coffee shop. But dont be fooled because the menu gives its true intentions away to serve you a piece of the world on every plate.
Saffron Soul has a lovely buffet laid out which will leave you confused about which visa to apply for first. You could go the a la carte route as well, but if its your first time we suggest take a quick tour of the buffet before you decide. After all its the best place to try a little bit of everything! Oh and by the way, every cuisine gets a chance to be the star. So dont go expecting Chinese, Italian, Russian, French, Mexican and who knows what else every day. Our itinerary included the usual places such as India, Italy and China while the not-so-usual starred Mexico and a bite of Turkey.
Our first stop was obviously Mexico where we decided to try the Chicken Cajun Fingers and Vegetarian Chimichanga (umm we are not counting the plate of fresh fruits we gobbled while deciding). The Chicken Cajun Fingers should come with a warning only for brave hearts or should we say stomachs! Even for the hardcore Hyderabadi, the spice on this one might be a bit much. The chimichanga garnished with olives, pepper and lettuce was nice and crispy with sour cream topping.
The salad spread is quite promising. The crackling of the lettuce assured us about the freshness of the veggies and the minced olives sprinkled on the salad only went on to add taste and visual appeal. It surely appeared as one salad bar with choices for everyone (loved the balsamic goat cheese). In the vegetarian salad section, there were Pickled Silverskin Onions that were nice and tangy, just like they should be. But the marinated zucchini and tomatoes were disappointing. In the non-vegetarian salad section, the chicken sausages and rice was a dish perfect for kids, even though it was a cold one. Luckily, the baked fish redeemed the salad counter single-handedly.
Unfortunately temptation lured us away from the salad section a little too quickly. If you love Haleem make sure you try the Haleem Sandwich here. Soft sheermal bread stuffed with rich Hyderabadi haleem and topped with fried onions. This humungous sandwich comes with pickled veggies and potato wedges. Highly recommended! Its no surprise that the salads didnt stand a chance at holding our attention.
On the other side, the steamed section is prepared keeping the main course in mind. I went for the Steamed Chicken Dumpling, which had a wonderful hint of chilli and ginger. As for the vegetarian options
well, there just wasnt enough. A small warning here, the starters will make their way to your table at regular intervals. Be careful not to over-stuff yourself. After all theres an extensive spread of main course and desserts waiting for you.
After trying the healthy steamed preparations, I tried the Chinese Chicken Wontons served hot with soy sauce and sweet chilli sauce, which was very good. Then, I relished the Chicken Tikka Cilazone, a small sandwich sized ideal for a breakfast snack but unfortunately it was crammed with too much of onions and mushrooms with less of Chicken. Can be termed as fusion food that was Indianised with Chicken Tikka in it. This starter appeared to me as a blend of two or more nations but it was surely innovative and quite interesting dish to look at. Vegetarians are promised a good experience with the silken tofu and a lot of honey glazed exotic veggies. The Indian main course had a whole variety of biryanis, not the usual kinds though (thankfully!). We started our main course with chepa pulusu which is a traditional Andhra fish curry. This is a tamarind gravy and god was it tangy! If seafood is your favourite meat, make sure you try this.
Then we went on and tried Hyderabads favourite, the Hyderbadi Biryani. The chicken biryani was served with Mirchi Ka Salan which is gravy made of green chillies and peanuts, and is served with the biryani (something like how most other cities serve raita as an accompaniment). The aroma, the flavours, and the spice
simply perfect! If chilli is not your preferred taste, please steer clear of the Mirchi Ka Salan. As our last bite off the main course spread we tried a Turkish preparation of Roast Lamb Slices with plain Rice. The lamb was tender and the aroma of delicious spices made it irresistible. Apart from this, there was Slice Chicken in Ginger Spring Onion, it was Chinese and looked tempting too. But, we decided to quickly start with the dessert menu.
The sweet spread gets sweeter as one notices sweets like malai-cham cham, Malpua (yummy), gulab jamun and ras malai. If luck has it, one might find rasgollas as well (pretty much the delicious Kolkata kinds). Chef Partha, the executive chef of Marigold takes pride in the quality of Indian sweets his halwai dishes out for the restaurant. For the diet conscious, there are sugar free sweets too. Dessert was a mix of traditional and western, but sadly there was no World Cuisine angle in this section.
We all always want to try something new, right? You remember the evening just last week when you asked your mom whats new for dinner? Or then cribbed when your friend chose the same place youll go to every Saturday to dine? Here is a place where they are flipping their menus/cuisines everyday; one day you might find yourself in Paris, another in Moscow. What fun!
For those who like to stick to a menu card, the a la carte menu offers some awesome options too, one of which is thin crust pizzas too. We might get our culinary passports stamped for Italian thin crust pizza on our next trip.
Must Try Chepa Pulusu, Vegetarian Chimichanga, Haleem Sandwich, Roast Lamb with Rice
Cost Rs 600/- plus taxes for lunch and Rs 650/- plus taxes for dinner.