Review: Friendly Gidea Park restaurant serves delicious Indian cuisine with a smile
PUBLISHED: 15:49 05 April 2017 | UPDATED: 07:27 06 April 2017
If you fancy great Indian food with a modern twist, then do not read this review.
I am a foodie and a greedy one at that, and would like to be able to book a table at one of the best Asian restaurants in Gidea Park without hindrance.
Apart from former West Ham footballer Danny Potts enjoying a meal, the first thing that stood out to me when I dined at Zaafran, Main Road, Gidea Park, yesterday was how warmly owner Sanu Miah and restaurant manager Mario Rodrigues greeted their customers.
It was as if they were all great friends.
Some diners even stopped at the bar on their way out after eating to have a drink and a chat with Sanu and Mario.
Zaafran Indian restaurant
Zaafran, Main Road, Gidea Park. Picture: Ann-Marie Abbasah.
Former West Ham footballer Danny Potts with restaurant manager Mario Rodrigues and owner Sanu Miah. Picture: Ann-Marie Abbasah.
A lamb shank prepared using a special Goan recipe including red wine, tomato and coriander. Picture: Ann-Marie Abbasah.
Zaafran customers Elaine and Liam Riordan. Picture: Ann-Marie Abbasah.
Kaede Agyemang and Stephanie Abbasah joined reporter Ann-Marie Abbasah for dinner. Picture: Ann-Marie Abbasah.
Prawn puri - fried and midly spiced prawns served with puffy bread. Picture: Ann-Marie Abbasah.
Home smoked tandoori salmon flavoured with mustard oil, dill, a touch of honey and served with garnish. Picture: Ann-Marie Abbasah.
Crab cakes marinated with fresh ginger, coriander and red chilli flakes and served salad and tamarind sauce. Picture: Ann-Marie Abbasah.
Zaafran's owner Sanu Miah and manager Mario Rodrigues opened up their kitchen and storage area to the Recorder. Picture: Ann-Marie Abbasah.
Freshly ingredients at the ready for delicious dishes. Picture: Ann-Marie Abbasah.
Zaafran chefs. Picture: Ann-Marie Abbasah.
I had not seen this in a restaurant before.
Usually people eat and go, but it provided a great distraction, well that and the delicious smell of Indian food wafting from plates as they were delivered to tables while I waited for my sister Stephanie and niece Kaede to join me for dinner.
Of course they were running in typically late fashion and I used the opportunity to speak to Sanu and Mario about the restaurant’s food hygiene rating.
After trading for many years without problems, a food hygiene inspection in October last year resulted in the restaurant being given a zero rating – meaning urgent improvement necessary.
On March 8, it was awarded the highest possible rating of five stars in all areas – meaning the restaurant has excellent hygienic food handling, exemplary cleanliness around the building and condition of facilities and food management.
Regular customers Elaine and Liam Riordan said: “Zaafran is our favourite restaurant. We were shocked but it didn’t deter us. We knew the truth absolutely and we wouldn’t even dream of trying anywhere else.”
This sentiment was echoed by Ollie Martin, 20, who is studying banking at Loughborough University.
“Restaurants in Loughborough don’t come up to the standard of Zaafran,” he said.
“I have been coming here since I was nine or 10. I always come with my parents. It is my local and it’s very good.”
Tom and Vicky Barter and their children Jess, Evie and Zachary travelled more than eight miles to eat at the restaurant.
“It’s brilliant,” said Tom.
“We drove from Brentwood to come here. We have been before. They’re very patient with the children and relaxed.
“Evie is five and just had her first chicken tikka. We would recommend the restaurant to parents.”
And just when I thought I couldn’t take my hunger pangs anymore, my sister and niece glided in.
To start, Kaede, 17, a vegetarian, order a home-smoked tandoori salmon flavoured with mustard oil, dill and a touch of honey.
I enjoyed crab marinated with fresh ginger, coriander and red chilli flakes served with salad and a tamarind sauce.
I can’t remember what my sister ordered, I was too busy eyeing up Kaede’s delicious looking salmon.
Oh yes! Stephanie ordered prawn puri – mildly spiced fried prawns served with puffy bread.
For mains, we tucked into a lamb shank, prepared to a special Goan recipe bursting with the flavour of red wine, tomatoes and coriander, vegetable biryani, king-prawn pathia, pilau rice, peshwari naan filled with almonds, coconuts and raisins and malai naan, stuffed with assorted cheese, onion and chillies.
To say I rolled out of the restaurant rather than walked is an understatement.
“The staff are friendly and talkative,” said Stephanie.
“We didn’t know what to have and they suggested really good meals.”
Kaede added: “Other restaurants you just talk to those on your table but the atmosphere here is you end up talking with others as if they’re your friends.”