Update (5:40 p.m., 2/4/2011): Finally heard from the owners; opening now set for Friday, Feb. 18.
Saffron Indian Cuisine is the name of a restaurant that has moved into the space that held, briefly last year, La Nuova Cucina. Saffron apparently has several immediate fans.
And it hasn’t even opened yet.
Alerted by a reader that Saffron had taken over the small restaurant space on Restaurant Row in the strip of shops tucked between Seasons 52 and Roy’s, I did some digging to see what I could find out about the place. I immediately discovered a Web site, saffronorlando.com, an elaborately designed site with gorgeous photos. There’s also a testimonials page with two comments, including “Great food!!!!” and “This is one of the best Indian restaurants i’ve been to. Great location, great service and the food is AMAZING!!!!”
And on the home page is a quote from a publication: “This great little Indian restaurant, turns out tasty and plentiful eats, everything is delicious and inexpensive” _The Grapevine Guide. (Never mind the misplaced comma, nor, elsewhere in the same paragraph, a reference to the “buatiful city of Orlando.” And “Intersate 4.” I will not throw stones at typos.)
I have to admit I had not heard of the Grapevine Guide. However, at the bottom of the home page of the luscious looking Web site was a link to the site’s designer: Grapevine Marketing. What a coincidence.
My calls to Saffron were picked up by an answering machine still set to the mechanical greeting answering machines are shipped with; they were not returned.
I did get an answer from Grapevine Marketing. The fellow there told me that the restaurant’s grand opening is set for this evening, February 4. I mentioned that I was confused because the quote from the Grapevine Guide, which is indeed an online publication of Grapevine Marketing, made it sound as though the restaurant had been open for a while. He said he had tasted the food.
(The Grapevine Guide has two restaurants under its “Bars & Restaurants” heading, Tabla and Nile, plus, for some reason, Rockstar Transport, a taxi and transportation provider. So I guess I could be excused for not knowing about Grapevine Guide. Then again, this fellow said he had never heard of me, either, so we’re even.)
I’m happy to see a new restaurant open — with Terrace 390, City Fire, Shipyard Emporium, Tibby’s, Moghul, Heat and others, perhaps this is a sign that we’re actually moving out of the recessionary doldrums. I’m glad, too, to see another business move in so quickly into the space vacated by La Nuova Cucina, which fell because of the economy.
But I’m dismayed by the disingenuousness of seeding a site with questionable claims. Lots of restaurants do the same thing, of course, peppering their sites — and their listings on restaurant review pages, such as Yelp and Urbanspoon and even here on SJO — with praise. Saffron isn’t even the first restaurant to garner kudos before opening. I recall flying home from somewhere and reading Delta’s Sky magazine and seeing one of those “best restaurant” ads that named FishBones Lake Mary one of the Top 10 Seafood Restaurants in America. The restaurant was still several months from opening.
FishBones did turn out to be a fine seafood restaurant. I believe I even gave it my critic’s Foodie Award that year, 2006. Saffron, too, could turn out to be a “great little Indian restaurant.” I sure hope so. I guess we’ll find out soon enough.