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Saffran - review

Icelandic chain specializing in wholesome world cuisine will drag you to health


1700 Sand Lake Road

Here's a gross generalization for you: When a restaurant characterizes itself first and foremost as “healthy,” it's probably not going to be delicious. Sadly, such is the case at the first U.S. location of Saffran, the Icelandic chain that flaunts its innovative melding of world cuisines. Most of the menu descriptions promise smoky Indian spices and naan (and who doesn't like a puffy, grilled bread?), but despite delivering a high flavor quotient, the dishes lack finesse.

The Saffran naanwich ($6) was filled with unspeakably dry, tough pieces of chicken, overloaded with raw red onion and iceberg lettuce, and sided with a strange pairing of sambal chili paste and ranch dressing. Most disappointing, the sandwich wasn't served on naan, but a wheat tortilla. Barley risotto ($1.75) had potential as a concept, but it was unpleasantly creamy (impossible as that might sound), and it was overwhelmed by the same red onions and doused with curry powder.

We did enjoy the chicken Safflat ($10), a spelt-and-wholegrain flatbread topped with smoky tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, chicken, pine nuts and salad greens (iceberg again, unfortunately). Dessert was the highlight: We sampled the chocolate mousse ($1.55), which had rich chocolate flavor but none of a mousse's fluffiness, as well as the only actually Icelandic menu item, wildberry skyr mousse ($1.55), which had the pleasant tang of yogurt and the mouthfeel of a full-fat ice cream.

Saffran isn't a home run, but it's an inexpensive option for a guilt-free meal that won't set you back too much whole-wheat dough.

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