Restaurant reviews

Safran: Fine food and Iranian indulgence

Few residents of Leeds are likely to have been to Iran and that includes me! That said, the time I’ve spent in Safran in Leeds city centre has truly transported me to a country’s cuisine that is rarely on any foodie’s radar.

Hidden away at the end of Kirkgate, well away from the main area of Leeds that you might stroll around to find a restaurant (unless you have just arrived on the Megabus) Safran is one place that you really should seek out if you’re looking for a tasty surprise.

On my first trip to Safran, I really truly didn’t know what to go for. Looking at the menu, I was rather intimidated by the food on offer. With even the kebab options having names I was unfamiliar with, it was really just a case of biting the bullet, manning up and picking a dish! For some reason, my final decision was to go for the Ghormeh Sabzi despite the fact that I didn’t know what on earth would be arriving!

Although the humus that arrived as a starter was clearly homemade and packed a punch, and the stunning flat bread that accompanied it was simply delicious, I was still unsure as to whether the sabzi would measure up to the fine introduction to Safran, or whether this was a false dawn.

When the sabzi arrived at the table, I initially feared the worst! The almost ominous dark green of the herbs mixed with the kidney beans offered me a dish that didn’t visually scream beauty. In this instance, though, it was a case of “never judge a book by its cover”.

After initially melting the butter into the saffron basmati rice, I poured the sabzi over the rice and experienced a flavour sensation unlike any I had previously enjoyed. The beautifully cooked lamb (which is halal) combined with the texture of the kidney beans and the aroma of the beautiful herbs really was something special. Simply put the food was finished faster than I care to admit and the beautiful taste sensation stayed with me long after the food had been eaten.

I can confess that we made (and continue to make!) many visits to Safran and it is a restaurant that continues to make me push my food boundaries for all the right reasons. I have never been let down by a dish I have had at Safran.

In slightly more recent times the introduction of wine as part of the menu has meant that you can relax and enjoy the excellent atmosphere for a little longer.

If you’re a foodie in Leeds and looking for something new, I can only say that Safran would be my number one choice for a cheap eat or a long family meal, boasting a cuisine that you rarely see offered these days.

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