Whenever we’re in Walla Walla, Washington, for wine tasting, or just for visiting family (they live nearby), we are always excited to stop at Saffron Mediterranean Kitchen for lunch or dinner. Not only is it some of the best food in town, it has a cozy, warm atmosphere that transports you to a small town in Spain, rather than a small town in Washington.
If you haven’t heard, Walla Walla is a fantastic place to go wine tasting. It has one of the largest conglomerations of wineries in the state. When we’re out wine tasting, the first place we think of to stop for a lunch refueling is always Saffron. It’s open every day from 2pm to 9pm, or 10pm in the summer. If you arrive by 2pm on a Saturday, you’ll have your pick of spots to sit. During dinner and busy times of the year, like in the summer, reservations are always recommended.
A few weekends ago, we stopped by Saffron for a lunch break after hitting up a couple of wineries on the Southside of town. We were the first to arrive so we grabbed the booth table by the window. You know I do these food posts just to make you drool and give a little food porn for the food-obsessed fans out there.
The food is mostly Mediterranean tapas with a strong Spanish influence. We ordered as much of the menu as possible for three people to consume. For lunch, the pastas and entree items are not available, but there are plenty of other options.
Each dish we ate was just as delicious as the last.
We started with a housemade spread and pita bread. The spread was a strained yogurt base topped with zatar spice. The homemade pita bread was pipping hot, and both chewy and crispy. Perfect for dipping in our spread.
Next we had Patatas Bravas, which consists of fingerling potatoes, saffron aioli, spicy tomato sauce & chili pepper. It was not quite what I remember the Patatas Bravas being like in Spain because the aioli had saffron and the sauce was not as sweet, but they were very good.
I don’t tend to order octopus because it’s rarely done well and I’m not a fan of chewy, rubbery food. It’s normal to be leary of the pulpo (octopus). I like that word. But at Saffron, there’s no need to worry. The Pulpo is cooked perfectly. There’s no rubberiness – just tender bits of deliciousness, doused in olive oil and paprika.
I really need to start making tartar at home. My worry is that I won’t be able to get fresh-enough meat to work with, but that’s just a matter of sourcing quality, and Seattle is great for that. I love a good beef tartar. The one we had at Saffron was a mixture of Lamb and Beef Tartar, with roasted pepper, preserved lemon, fresh herbs, bulgar wheat, nigella seed, chili oil & grilled pita to scoop it all up on. Delicious.
We had one extra dish than we ordered delivered to the table, which none of us were sad about. It was the Beef Cheeks, which we had foregone in order to get the tartar. Alas, they took pity on us and convinced us to try both. Turned out the Beef Cheeks were amazing. The meat was so tender and falling apart. It was served with a fig mostarda, R&R Farms apples, curry, basil & house made saba. You agree that the plate looks incredible right? It tasted even better than it looks.
Finally, we obviously saved room for the flatbread. This one had Iberico ham, fire roasted romesco, olives, Manchego, fresh parsely & toasted almonds. I think flatbread is a fickle thing. It’s not always done very well. Unfortunately, I think the one we ordered went a little too pizza-ish for my liking. It had a tomato-based sauce that was similar to pizza sauce and the jamon on top felt a little like pepperoni. Not that that’s a bad thing, but in this case, I was hoping for fresh jamon and maybe some fresh arugula. In any case, the flatbread is a good choice here because they have a great wood-fired oven so the crust gets the perfect char and crispiness.
I don’t kid around when I say that Saffron Mediterranean Kitchen is a great place to enjoy lunch or dinner in Walla Walla. It has a great atmosphere that makes you feel like you’re somewhere more special, and the food is the perfect accompaniment to a day of wine tasting. Next time you’re in Walla Walla, you must check it out!