With the demise of 26 Brix, Walla Walla was left with one fewer great kitchen. The economics of running a fine dining restaurant in a town of Walla Walla’s size must be daunting, though the prospect of drawing in the university crowd and the growing number of winemakers in the valley is surely what drives an entrepreneur to even try. Saffron Mediterranean Kitchen is now regarded by locals as the best such restaurant in town. The name bespeaks Mediterranean food, though it’s apparent that Northwest ingredients make frequent appearances. What better way to try different things than to order from the small plate menu.
We dined here two nights in a row.
The steamed clams were really good with the (salty) broth also harboring shredded and diced smoked ham hocks, lobster mushrooms, green onions and saffron, a kind of broth that cries out to be mopped up with bread.
The special of the night was a Merguez sausage (lamb) appetizer with roasted cherry tomatoes and corn, grilled zucchini and cilantro. The sauce here was also very good, but no spoons or additional bread were provided to eat it all up.
The flatbread (called lahmacun, Turkish in origin) tonight was spread with a concentrated tomato and piquillo pepper sauce and topped with ground lamb and lemon oil, then sprinkled with parsley and green onion slivers.
This was an intensely flavored flatbread whose flavor grew on me as I ate more. For dessert, we really enjoyed a chocolate semi-freddo served with a “savory” spread of ground hazelnuts and carrot puree. The carrot curls were baked to give it an interesting crispiness.
I forgot my camera, so unfortunately there are no pictures of our meal.
We shared a grilled baby octopus, tomato salad and a Spanish-style flatbread. The octopus came with garbanzo beans, parsley and a delicious vinaigrette made with tahini. The salad was a tasty combination of cubed heirloom tomatoes, lemon cucumbers, chopped olives, mint and cilantro. The flatbread was topped with minced Spanish chorizo and shrimp and a savory cheese (probably Spanish).
Saffron will be a destination restaurant every time we visit Walla Walla.
|Saffron Mediterranean Kitchen
125 West Alder Street
Walla Walla, WA 99362