Saffron Mediterranean Kitchen
If there is one way to sum up Saffron, its all about flavor. Chris Ainsworth, chef, and Island Ainsworth, proprietor, have crafted a menu that truly celebrates flavorful food. Using fresh, local ingredients, a variety of seasonings, and a Mediterranean style of cooking, the Ainsworths have created a restaurant that is unique in the Walla Walla Valley.
On the two occasions my wife and I have dined at Saffron Mediterranean Kitchen, we sat at the "chef's table" located adjacent to the open kitchen area. Being so close to the action, we felt as if we were dining in the Ainsworth's home, for we spent most of our meal getting to know Island and Chris while they prepared our meal.
But you need not sit at the chef's table to experience this warm hospitality, for the Ainsworth's have placed an emphasis on providing friendly service throughout their restaurant. The wait staff does an excellent job serving customers with just the right amount of attentiveness without being overbearing.
In terms of setting, Saffron offers an open, comfortable dining experience in downtown Walla Walla. Their is a minimalist design aesthetic applied in the overall decor of the restaurant. Careful attention has been paid to giving the interior a warm, relaxing feel, while ensuring the place maintains a good level of energy.
Getting back to the flavor that is Saffron, the biggest challenge when dining here is deciding what to eat, for the Mediterranean inspired menu offers such enticing descriptions that it is tempting to order one of everything.
For starters, we ordered a couple of glasses of Prosecco along with the country pate, blood orange salad, and Kobe beef cheeks. The rustic pate was delicious on its own, but really came alive when combined with the pickled onions, honey roasted pistachios, and Dijon mustard served with it.
The blood orange salad was a balanced and integrated melody of fresh arugula, Italian parsley, barrel aged feta, red onion, and chili oil. The Kobe beef cheeks were braised with an eggplant agrodolce sauce, basil and saba, creating this hearty, delightful dish.
Island and Chris have put together an impressive wine list, featuring local, food-friendly wines by the glass or bottle complemented by a number of French, Spanish, Italian, and other Mediterranean-style wines. Best of all, this list extends to a nice collection of apertifs, sparklers, dessert, and digestivos.
We paired the first course dishes with glasses of Dusted Valley '07 Chardonnay and Syrah as well as the Flying Trout 2008 Torrontes Argentina. Ashley Trout, a local winemaker, crafted the Torrontes in Argentina, where she spends half of the year. The Flying Trout Torrontes was a captivating wine that we ended up enjoying with our seafood courses as well. This is a terrific wine, from a variety I want to experience again.
For the main course, we selected the scallops entree and the homemade fettuccine pasta with clams. The scallops were absolutely beautiful and cooked to perfection with shaved fennel, olives, citrus salad, and Egyptian spices and nuts. The hand-crafted fettuccine with whole clams, pancetta, Italian parsley, olive oil, and Parmigiano Reggiano was amazing as well.
As full as we were, it was a given that we would try the panna cotta, a perfectly executed dessert that was even better with a couple of complementary glasses of Vin Santo 2000 Montellori GLS. What a terrific finish to a truly delightful meal, one that was that much more special due to the conversation shared with Island, Chris, and Boe, our server.
With every dish served, we were entranced by the aromatics wafting up from our plates. With every bite taken, we were delighted with the incredible flavors dancing across our palates. If you're looking for a flavorful journey through the Mediterranean, then make plans to celebrate dinner at Saffron on your next visit to Walla Walla.