Situated on the first floor, opposite the Reliance digital store at Banjara Hills, Saffron Strings restaurant isn't easily visible from the main road. This 90-seater serves only vegetarian food and is known more for its reasonably-priced buffet. Priced at Rs. 149 for lunch and Rs. 179 for dinner during weekdays, and slightly more during weekends, the buffet with its ample offer is a treat! Fifty items are on offer for the buffet. What stands out are the starters. The Paneer Ajwaini is a dish consisting of one-inch squares of paneer sautéed with chaat masala and powder of carom (ajwain/vamu) in it. Amongst the starters a must-try is the Crispy Potato. The thinly-sliced potato wedges are deep fried, tossed with chopped onion, ginger and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. This is great to taste as care is taken to drain it completely of its oil content and just the right amount of spices added. Also noteworthy is the Bhutta Sheekh kabab, an oil-free preparation of boiled potato, mashed vegetables and fresh corn. This dough-like mix is baked in the tandoor, sliced and served with green mint chutney. This preparation does call for a second or third helping.

One of the attractions of the buffet is the chaat counter with its offer of papidi chaat and paani puris. Which Hyderabadi would resist this? Also available is the live counter with its offer of dosas and phulkas. The phulkas made of whole wheat flour are delightfully puffed. The soup is a bit disappointing. The Hot and Sour soup which generally makes your eyes water was nondescript and bland. Perhaps the use of soya base rather than a vegetable stock as a base has weakened the taste. Though care is taken to cook the food in optimum oil, the curries in the buffet could do with a little more spices.

The buffet has six types of starters and salads, six curries, two Chinese dishes, six types of Indian bread, different accompaniments like papad, crisps and pickle, and seven types of desserts. The gulab jamuns amongst the desserts are worth trying. Amongst the a la carte offer is the Paneer Adraki in a cashew nut-tomato gravy with a slightly pungent pickle-like taste, which is sure to appeal.

The attentive waiters are a definite plus. The restaurant runs from 12 p.m. to 3.30 p.m. for lunch and 7 p.m. to 10.30 p.m. for dinner. A la carte for two comes to around Rs. 400. Valet parking facility is available. Free home delivery to around 5 kms is done.

Saffron Strings

Pluses: Value for money

Minuses: Nothing, really

Food: 3.5/5; Ambience: 3.5/5

Located in Kimtee Square, Road No. 12, Banjara Hills

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