1531 Burwood Highway, Tecoma
"It's a bit pricey for Indian Takeaway", someone grumbled at me when we were discussing Saffron Cottage. And yes, it is a bit more expensive than a cheap'n'cheerful takeaway place with beaded curtains to stop the flies and sticky plastic tablecloths. Then again, it's rather better food than you'd get from such a place. In fact, it's a proper restaurant (proper, in my limited definition, meaning it has linen tablecloths, waiting staff in smart clothes, a decent wine list, and let's not forget: good food).
They offer takeaway at 15% discount on the eat-in prices. Mrs. Banttha and I have two young 'uns, so we tend to eat takeaway far more often than we get to go out to dinner - hence, much of our interaction with Saffron Cottage is via the take-away they offer. Recently, Mrs. Banttha's mother came up to mind the Banttha boys, and we skipped out to enjoy a meal.
The interior decoration is interesting - a mix of rustic (exposed beams and rough wood panelling) and refined (rather swish bar, neatly-set tables, the usual stuff). It's got a cosy feel, despite being quite large. During winter they have the open fires going - the tables near those go really fast. During warm summer nights, the back porch, with its view up to the Dandenong Ranges National Park, is the place to be.
A lot of the menu is standard Indian restaurant fare that any self-respecting Melbournian would know. In my books, this is no bad thing. My sister has more than once accused me of being Lister from Red Dwarf - nothing suits me better than a hot curry and a cold beer. I'm sure she didn't mean that I'm a slob.
The curries are great - tender chunks of meat, and full flavour - even in their hottest vindaloo, all of the flavours come through beautifully. When we dined there I had the lamb rogan josh, with a glass of merlot (their wine list includes some decent reds, quite a few of them available by the glass). Mrs Banttha chose the mango chicken - between two such tasty meals, there was a long silence at our table, punctuated only by the clink of cutlery.
Two curries + rice and a serve of roti bread will set you back about $40. Add a couple of glasses of red wine ($5 - $6 per glass) and maybe a couple of entrees, and you'll still come in around $60.
It can get a bit busy at times, so booking a table for a peak night (Friday or Saturday) would be a good idea.
Quick summary: decor inviting, staff friendly, food excellent, wine list decent. Criticisms? I have none.