Every Friday, Roots in Alpharetta features an article on food and dining in a series I like to call Foodie Friday.
File this review under “taking one for the team.” I was flying blind going into Zafraan for lunch this week. I knew this place had opened just from driving by, however there is absolutely nothing written about them at this point. Urbanspoon? Yelp? City Search? Nada. Sure, they have a website… two actually with slightly different spellings of the name (www.zafraan.us and www.zaffraan.com). As of right now both sites have nothing but a logo. To make matters worse, their address (on a side street of 141) makes finding them tough.
But the good little food grubber in me had to try this place. I nearly turned around when I noticed no one in the parking lot yet still proceeded in with a lot of trepidation. Inside you’ll find a no-frills restaurant. Absent is the buffet line, something I’m accustomed to seeing at Indian restaurants for lunch. Also gone is any sort of decor, save one television playing Bollywood music videos.
I got practically no welcome from the staff as I approached the counter to order. Friendly and inviting? Not here. I was handed a menu to look through and recognized a few familiar dishes. I ended up putting it down when I discovered a specials board. They have three lunch specials descriptively named … chicken lunch, veg lunch and mutton lunch. One of these was removed from contention immediately (can you guess?). I settled on the chicken lunch and paid my $9.
The lunch specials come out on a tray holding an array of paper plates. The first thing that catches your attention is an enormous piece of buttered naan. It was a little more crispy than I’m used to but it was still amazing. Fresh hot naan is something most Indian buffets don’t do well.
Also on the special is a big portion of biryani rice. I couldn’t come close to finishing it all. Next to it was a chicken dish that came fried. I don’t recall the name, perhaps it was chicken 65. I found it to be greasy. The rest of the tray was various appetizers and other unidentifiable gooey stuff that my unsophisticated Indian palate couldn’t make sense of. A lot of it served as a delicious dip for pieces of buttered naan. Very good stuff.
I could identify dessert. It was a single gulab jamun swimming in syrup. I wasn’t impressed with the texture of this dish, which is by far my favorite Indian sweet. But overall lunch at Zafraan exceeded my expectations. The portions were huge and the flavors and spice powerful.
It’s clear that Zafraan isn’t targeting the lunch cubicle crowd. I’m guessing their modus operandi is to serve the growing Indian community and spread by word of mouth. If you’re looking for a authentic Indian experience and don’t expect frills or friendly service, Zafraan is your place.