General Tso's Chicken at Cafe Saffron
Pad Thai at Cafe Saffron
Cafe Saffron
Yellow Chicken Curry at Cafe Saffron
Cafe Saffron
Foods from Cafe Saffron

2017 Jul 18
Green curry tofu on steamed rice with mixed vegetables and a side of hot and sour soup for $10, taxes included. This is why this is on so many people's cheap eats. The food is fusion but slightly better than Manchu work so definitely gets my vote for a cheap and quick lunch.

2015 Mar 20
Now that I am back working downtown in Place de Ville I am on the hunt for some favourite lunch spots. I haven't worked in the area in over 15 years so I am having fun rediscovering the neighbourhood. Café Saffron has been on my bucket list for ages so I decided to give it a try today.

The inside is small but set up with bistro-style tables and chairs near a large sunlit window at the front of the resto. The counter is set up at the back of the resto with a small partition dividing the ordering area from the dining area. The line weaves around it creating space between the line-up and the diners.

There are two specials at lunch - two items + soup or spring roll for $7.95 or three items + soup or spring roll for $9.95. When I arrived there were about six or eight menu items available. Since I am indecisive (and because everything sounded good) I decided to wait until I got to the counter to decide which looked most appealing to me. I decided to order the spring rolls to start, then pork with roasted pepper, stirfried veggies, and fried rice as the main. The spring rolls were crispy and almost no grease. The pork consisted of generous pieces of meat with just enough batter to coat and not greasy at all and tasted like the same seasoning used in salt and pepper squid. The veggies were sautéed enough to warm up but still crunchy. They were a pleasant change from the soggy grease laden ones found at many fast food places. The rice was also nicely cooked but could have used some veggies - even a few peas would have been nice. The fried rice just had egg in it - that's it - but I enjoyed my lunch so much this is just a small complaint.

The line-up often went to the door during the half hour I was there but it moved quickly and the service was pleasant. It is obviously a popular lunch spot and I really enjoyed my meal. I look forward to going back many more times.

2011 Jun 28
I am very pleased I found this place to add to my lunchtime roster. If I was to describe Café Saffron, I would say it reminds me of an upper class, slightly more fusion based version of ‘manchu wok’.

They offer all sorts of Asian-like dishes which range from general Taos chicken, curries, pad Thai, spring rolls etc. This place seems to be a favourite among public servants. Every time I have walked by, the place has been full of people wearing pass cards.

Last week I tried the "2 option + rice + spring roll/soup" combo which was $7.50+ tax. I was pleasantly surprised. I tried a green curry and a yellow chicken curry over white rice. Both of the curries were very good. Surely not the best Thai curry I have ever had but I will say they were very tasty and had me practically licking the container clean. The green curry had tons of eggplant and bamboo shoots – delicious!

The meal has a great price/quantity/quality ratio. I chose to have soup with my curries, and I’m sad to say that it was a mistake. I had some kind of asian soup (I didn’t catch the name). I have had this kind of soup before at other Thai restaurants, its awful stuff! It’s sweet and syrupy and just unappealing. I wish I would have opted for the springroll.

Lesson learned.

I will definitely be back! This place gets busy, so I recommend you come before or after the lunch rush.

2008 May 7
This place is close to my office so I sometimes go over for a quick lunch that's a step up from a sandwich, but not quite a nice meal out. They do pretty good curries and everything is served assembly-line style in cute little plastic take-out boxes, good for a speedy getaway. It's always busy in there though and sometimes hard to get a seat.

2007 Jun 22
Have eaten here often -- very convenient for a grab and go lunch, and the price is moderate ($7.50 taxes included for a take-away nice re-usable container).

Quality of food-wise, it is okay for Asian food but certainly not incredible. The green curry tofu with bamboo is very yummy as is their tofu salad.

2006 Oct 6
As chance would have it, I had lunch at Saffron today with a co-worker. It may be because we arrived well after the noon surge, but the green curry had more vegetables and tofu in it than usual -- still shy of "generous", but reasonable enough. So, perhaps the quantity given depends on the time, or even the day. As usual, everything was very tasty, and I have another plastic container to use at home....

One more thing, now that it's fresh in my mind: in my initial comment I had forgotten that the $7.50 includes taxes. Still not genuinely cheap, but not as bad as I made it sound.

Finally, I'm not sure I'm the one to do a dissertation on Asian food pricing in Ottawa, but I'd be happy to help with the research. :)

2006 Oct 5
Hmmm.. sounds like the staff have gotten more ornery in the last couple of years. I guess doling out food to impatient people every day does that!

As for value, it also sounds like their prices have risen to the limit of what the market may bear. I recall a cheap combo being more around $6.

I think it's strange that despite plenty of Thai restaurants in Ottawa, they've managed to generally price themselves higher than the Vietnamese places. Perhaps it's because there's a cluster of Vietnamese restaurants in Chinatown, increasing the impact of competition. Or maybe there's a more complex interaction between cultural differences and management strategy. Who wants to do a dissertation on this?

2006 Oct 5
I'd say a good place for a tasty lunch -- their food is delicious -- though perhaps not a great place.

I've often gotten a meal that's heavy on noodles or rice, but light on the other mains. On one occasion, a dining companion counted two small pieces of chicken in the chicken dish, and felt obliged to point this out at the counter -- she received a third small piece, without apology. On another occasion, I had to ask to have vegetables other than the dozen slivers of bamboo included in my green curry tofu and vegetables ("could I please have a piece of pepper?"). These may be extreme cases, but I'm afraid that in my experience, it's the norm rather than the exception that the servers are a bit stingy. Having lived in Toronto where $7.50 for a meal of equivalent tastiness would be expensive (think $5.95 for 50% more food), I can't call it cheap.

For those expecting the vegetarian options that are typical at Thai restaurants, Saffron is underwhelming: most days, other than tofu salad, there's only a mixed vegetable dish among the mains that's vegetarian; on Fridays there's also a vegetable and tofu green curry.

As for the takeout boxes, it's worth noting that they only have takeout boxes: "eating in" won't reduce waste, and though the containers are completely recyclable, there are no appropriate recycling bins provided for them. The only consolation is that I do take them home and wash them for re-use (not for food, but mainly for sorting things in my workshop), something I wouldn't do with white foam containers.

My conclusion: very tasty, but not as cheap as it should be, and disappointing for vegetarians. For an extra buck, I'm happier going up the street to Coriander Thai (which does takeout, too).

2006 Sep 25
This is a great place for a quick, cheap and tasty lunch. It's cafeteria-style, just like the franchised, mall foodcourt places; only here the food is better quality and they don't follow some bland menu developed in Philadelphia at franchisor HQ. Friendly staff and excellent pad thai (considering it you stand in a line to get it). Their takeout boxes are made from extremely durable plastic and I always felt bad dumping them, like I should collect them at home as tupperware. :-( Only blemish on an excellent choice for lunch downtown.

2017 Jul 8
I second all the comments. It is a cheaper but tasty option in the centertown area. The chicken curry is their signature dish and is available every day. It is pictured here on steamed rice and beef and zucchini. I chose the soup instead of the spring roll as side. It was chicken and rice.

2017 Jul 18
It is not a real pad thai. It is tomato based and fairly sweet but it is strangely satisfying. It is pictured here with steamed rice, tofu and red curry with eggplants and red pepper and a small spring roll.

2020 Jan 9
The general Tso chicken is always on the menu and is fairly popular. It is on the sweeter side.