At this Burlingame spot, you will find a refashioned brighter interior, an added parklet, a new menu and name change, and owner Ajay Walia no longer greeting you in a sharp suit, but casual shirt and slacks.
In June, Walia closed his former Michelin-starred, fine-dining Rasa on this property, and morphed it into the second outpost of his Saffron (the original is in San Carlos). It was a difficult decision, he says, but one necessitated by the challenges of the pandemic.
Yet despite the transformation, Walia doesn’t believe anything is radically different.
“We’re still buying the same ingredients, and cooking with the same standards,” he says. “The only thing that has changed is people’s expectations.”
Indeed, when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant last week to dine outside, I found the food as delightful as ever.
Owner Ajay Walia can’t help but chuckle these days when patrons — and even long-time regulars — walk past his Saffron restaurant in San Carlos, only to back-peddle in a double-take.
Like some other establishments, Walia decided to use the time during the pandemic when his 19-year-old restaurant wasn’t operating at full capacity to refresh its look.
The result is night and day. The once near-black exterior is now bright white. The interior, once much more traditional in vibe with gold and saffron-hued walls, is now as crisp and fresh looking as a starched summer shirt with white walls and banquettes, and loads of greenery. With so many of us spending time in our own backyards during lock-down, Walia says he was inspired to bring the outdoors in.
If you’re like me and still only dining outdoors at the moment, though, you’ll be glad to know that Saffron also has a few tables outside its front doors. That’s where I parked myself when I was invited to dine as a guest last week.
Walia, who also owns Michelin-starred Rasa in Burlingame, has updated Saffron’s menu, even going so far as to do away with the restaurant’s long-time buffet, to concentrate on quality rather than quantity. I’d say the food’s never been better.