Wednesday, August 13, 2008


JP, remember that little coffee shop down the street from our house? The one that served panini sandwiches? No. Of course you don't. Because it was a stupid place and we never went there. The Spouse and I always thought the space was more conducive to a little bistro or a pub, either of which would have been a welcome addition to our itty bitty commercial zone that has only ever had one other restaurant (Italian...decent Italian run by very nice people but still...variety is the spice of life, I've been told). But over the years that sliver of space has been 3 or 4 stupid incarnations on the same stupid coffee/panini theme and we have shunned it, vigorously.

Ok, so you don't remember the stupid panini place because we never went there. But remember the restaurant we went to with The Neighbor to celebrate The Spouse's and my anniversary? The one with the delicious food and the elegant, hospitable owner, Carlos, who also acted as sommelier?

Good news! Superfantastic good news. He and his wife have opened a new restaurant in the stupid panini space. Huzzah!

We went there last night and I'm happy to report that it is going to be terrific. There are a few bugs to work out, to be sure. The space is a little loud, but Carlos is already working on mitigating that. Last night was the first or second night for dinner service and, naturally, the food was a little uneven. The Spouse's lamb wasn't cooked exactly to his specifications and my pasta need a little salt (but sheesh, a little I can't put that on my food myself. Which I did. And then it was perfect). The Child had crepes stuffed with wild mushrooms which were excellent. The wait staff was courteous and capable and we were very excited to see that they turned 5 tables during the time we were dining. Not bad for a maiden voyage. The name of the restaurant is Saffron. It's small (only about 12 tables) and decorated with simple elegance. A few curtains to soften the noise (I told you, Carlos is already on that) and it is going to be great. The Spouse and I can already imagine languishing over a bottle of wine and the pate-of-the-day some winter evening, when the rain is driving outside but all is warm and satisfying within.

Oh, and I almost forgot! When you are first seated and they bring out the (very crispy, hot and perfect) bread to your table it is served with warm olive oil infused with shallots and saffron. Oy! I could have just eaten that with a glass of wine and been happy.

Right now they plan to be open for weekend breakfasts and weekday lunches as well as dinners. This is such a welcome addition to the neighborhood. Columbia City, while charming, is stealing all the foodie thunder and much as I like many of the places there it's still just far enough away that you have to be really committed if you're going to walk or else you have to take your car (feeling mildly guilty about it) and then try to find parking. No, what this 'hood needs is a little upgrade of it's own and Saffron could very well be the beginning of that transformation. And even if it's not, it's still so nice to have an actual bistro right down the street.

We're so going there to celebrate when you finally move out here. Or just come to visit again. Whichever comes first.

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Blogger TWISI opined...

hot bread with warm olive oil infused with shallots and safron.... OMG, YUMMMMMMM!!!!!!!!!!!

I love little neighborhood restaurants, we have (ok had) 2 in my neighborhood that were must visit location... one only has 6 tables and is one of the best restaurants I have ever eaten in, it is moving to a larger space in the next couple of months and I worry what will happen to it. The other, a cute little Italian restaurant, just closed last month, I was sad to see it go.

August 13, 2008 11:59 AM  
Blogger sageweb opined...

What about me! Do I get to go? Jp hogs the spotlight all the time.

August 13, 2008 12:27 PM  
Blogger Buck opined...

I'm with Sageweb. I want in on this as well.

I'm going to fly out there on a winter's night just so I can have pate and wine at Saffron.

August 13, 2008 2:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous opined...

Lorraine! Tell Sage and Buck to stop bogarting the spotlight that I'm trying to hog.

August 13, 2008 3:17 PM  
Blogger Sling opined...

..but do they offer 1 hour Martinizing??
Sounds terrific!
That whole hot bread and olive oil thing has made me hungry for lefttover enchiladas.
..could we please put the spotlight back on JP? know how he gets.

August 13, 2008 4:00 PM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

Twisi, it was divine. I'm going to make some myself soon.

Neighborhood joints are really important to a community. I'm sorry for the loss of your Italian place. That sucks.

Next time your in town, Sage, we'll go. Although I'm afraid I'll have to talk about JP the whole time. It's in my contract.

Uh, Buck, October? Hello? Monica said flights between Chicago and Seattle are less than $200.

Sage, Buck, JP says to stop bogarting the spotlight he's trying to hog. (Geez, you people are high maintenance).

Sling, sadly, no. But then, every hot spot in town can't be like Barb's. More's the pity. And I'd like some of those leftover enchis, too, please. Here, help me move the spotlight, 'k? It's heavier than I thought.

August 13, 2008 5:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous opined...

Ba Ha Ha Ha (Note no W)

See. Gentrification can be a good thing. Columbia City was quite harsh 20 years ago.

Oh, and the spotlight? Duh, loosen the nuts holding it in place.

Universal wrenchs work great.



August 13, 2008 5:40 PM  
Blogger Bad Alice opined...

Hmm. The next time I get to eat out somewhere that doesn't have a demonic clown or a playful cow and cheap plastic toys I'll be cleaning out of the car sometime next year . . . I may have forgotten how to hold a fork.

August 13, 2008 6:51 PM  
Blogger Willym opined...

This comment has been removed by the author.

August 14, 2008 9:17 AM  
Blogger Willym opined...

I think we will be able to satisfactorily fill all 12 tabler - provided we can get our schedules figured out. So just tell Carlos that you got a group coming one night and.....

Just picked up three very interesting olive oils at a tasting: ginger, rosemary and lemon. The ginger is going to work very well as dressing on an oriental style salad.

And the sooner they get spellcheck in comments the happier I'll be....

August 14, 2008 9:18 AM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

Anonyba, word. I was terrified of that neighborhood when we first moved here. And thanks for helping with the spotlight. Duh, indeed.

Trust, Bad Alice, it's like riding a bike. It'll come back to you.

Oh, Willym, I just had the most lovely picture of all of us filling up Saffron and having a merry old time. Let's get to work on that, 'k. Have your people call my people...

August 14, 2008 10:11 AM  
Blogger Citymouse opined...

oh i am so into the bread with oil mmmmmm

August 14, 2008 8:01 PM  
Blogger Miss Healthypants opined...

Don'tcha just love it when a great new restaurant opens in your hood? *smiles*

Iwanski and I are waiting for a Chinese buffet to open up near us. But then we'd never eat at home. :)

August 17, 2008 10:14 AM  

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