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Saffron Burlingame

Updated: Sep 30, 2023

The only Michelin starred South Indian restaurant in the Bay Area, Rasa, recently closed its door for good, to everyone's disappointment. Rasa was also rated the best Indian restaurant in the Bay Area by San Francisco Chronicle, for its richly flavored food without skimping on authenticity. However, the chef, Ajay Walia has flipped it into a second location of his 20-year-old San Carlos staple, Saffron. Unlike the original Saffron, which is predominantly a North Indian restaurant, the new Saffron Burlingame menu is a fusion of South and North Indian delicacies, while retaining some of Rasa's favorites, such as the Bombay Slider. Every one of the items we ordered were flavorful with a unique blend of unique yet progressive blend of East meets West.

The interior has also had an aesthetic makeover, with the addition of a beautiful chandelier and plants making the bi-level space look light and airy. The service was a little slow as we had to remind them of a missed dish. All in all, I give this restaurant 4 out of 5 SolaraStars, with 1 star deducted due to the inattentive service and inconsistent serving size of small versus big plates, as mentioned below.

We started off our dinner with our drink order of mango lassi and mango-ginger-jito. The mango lassi wasnt like your traditional drink found at all run-off-the-mill Indian restaurants. Instead, it was rich and creamy, light on the mango, with slices of almonds and cashews mixed in. The mango-ginger-jito mocktail was sweet and sweet at the same time and lip-smacking good. The drinker amongst us had a pinot.

Mango ginger-jito and Mango lassi

For appetizer, we ordered the Bombay slider, which we had fond memories off from the Rasa days, and we were not disappointed! The potato vada between the two buns had the right amount of spiciness, and the chutney on the pav was so flavorful. The kale salad on the slide was a nice touch and the gun powder with ghee was a nice twist to this Bombay traditional vada pav. I was disappointed that each plate came with only 2 sliders, as I could have easily eaten 5!

Next up were the Indian Railway peppers, which were crispy sweet banana peppers, topped with greek yogurt, lime and shredded carrots and radish. Despite the yogurt filling, the peppers were crispy and flavorful, but with only 3 pieces per plate, it left us wanting for more.

For our main course, we decided to order the various innovative dosas. The mushroom uttapam was interesting, to say the least, with wild mushrooms generously mixed in it. Being a dosa purist, I was skeptical about this fusion dosa, and may not have liked it, had it not been for the delicious drumstick sambar, tomato and coconut chutneys that came as accomplishments and made me forget I was actually eating mushrooms in dosa. The other dosas we ordered, including Genovese basil dosa, spicy Bollywood dosa and the ragi dosa were all very good. However, what was confusing was all dosas were listed as small plates on the menu, but were extremely filling, compared to the Bombay Slider and Railway peppers we had ordered as appetizers.

L to R : Genovese Basil Dosa, Ragi Dosa, Bollywood Dosa, Mushroom Uttapam

We also tried Allepey Vegetable Curry, which was very close to the traditional Avial. It came with a side of rice, and the curry itself was very creamy and loaded with vegetables and we literally scraped the bottom clean to finish every bit of this yummy curry. Chicken Biryani was also top notch.

L to R : Allepey Vegetable Curry, Chicken Biryani

By the time we had finished all of this, we were, not surprisingly, in a food coma and decided to skip dessert.

In summary, Safforn Burlingame is an excellent place for a dinner with friends or to celebrate a special occasion. Food is overpriced, but this is an upscale restaurant, and it is understandable that with the innovative menu, the chef is trying hard to win back the Michelin star he once procured with Rasa.


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