We weren't particularly familiar with Walla Walla (frankly, we're still not) so before a recent trip down there, we solicited for places we should visit. The Barry Geraghty was particularly adamant about us checking out Saffron, and who are we to argue?
Personal recommendations aside, the spot definitely has its credentials in order. Chris Ainsworth is a five-time semi-finalist for James Beard's "Best Chef in the Northwest", so he must be doing something right.
The credentials are impressive, then, and so is Saffron. Some have called it a competitor for best restaurant in the Northwest, and we can see why. The food here is of the Mediterranean style, think Spanish meets Morocco (see below for an informative Tangier video), and its quality is pretty tremendous.
The foie gras appetizer, for example, is almost rich enough to be an entree in itself. Served appropriately with saffron and basil, and with aa really tasty saba, it's pretty much something any rational person should try. (Unless you're all about the foie gras politics and yada yada.)
As far as an actual entree goes, you can not go wrong with the lamb fattee. The lamb is as tender as it can be without being mushy, and the sauce has a nice cinnamon kick to it. Served with basmati rice and bread, it ranks highly on the list of Northwest meals we have tried. The flavors really has that much of a depth, without ever going overboard.
The duck didn't fare much worse; perfectly cooked, served with sausage and olives on a bed of cabbage. The latter was actually somewhat of a surprise. I don't have any issues with cabbage, but rarely has it blown my socks of either. Here it pretty much did do just that, largely due to a nice array of spices. It's a rarity to see cabbage as nicely flavored as this.
Finally, special mention to the service which actually was professional. Kind of a rarity here in the Northwest, but plates weren't removed from the table until everyone was done with their individual dish. It's a small thing, maybe, but stuff like this counts.
Really, Saffron is worth the drive to Walla Walla itself. It's a tremendous dining experience, one everyone should experience at least once.
And as for Tangier...