2132 N. Northgate Way
Seattle, WA 98133
My nephew, Tristan, was eight years old and visiting from Oregon when he tasted his first mango lassi at Muhammed Bhatti’s first Indian-Middle Eastern fusion restaurant in the University district. Tristan’s response was to order a second. Now grown up, well-travelled, and living in Seattle, he still declares that Bhatti’s lassis are the best there are. And who wouldn’t agree with that? Usually when the waiter comes over to take our drink orders, everyone at the table foregoes the bourbon to have the lassi. Sometimes you just have to prioritize. Other people will say that, yes, the lassis are good, but—really—you need to check out the garlic naan, the butter chicken, the palak massala, the pakoras…the list goes on but always, always the gulab jamun, those heavenly little spheres in that sweetly scented syrup!
No matter what you order, Saffron is always a delicious trip to magical spices and complex tastes, to plates passed around to companions because they need to taste the amazing dish you ordered, to kind and attentive servers who will refill your chai cup before it is even close to empty, and to a warm greeting and often a complimentary slice of halvah from Mr. Bhatti himself. Wheelchair travelers have access to a wonderful experience for taste buds, nose, eyes, and belly at Saffron.
Parking: There is wheelchair parking next to the restaurant on the “motel” side (the north side) and right next to the ramp that will take you to the door.
Entrances: Getting into the restaurant is a bit of a struggle. It’s a double door with obstacles between the outer and inner doors and a tight turn. You can usually count on someone in the line of people waiting for a table to leap up and open the inner door for you and, if not a patron waiting for tandoori, Mr. Bhatti himself. Once opened, the doors give ample room for wheelchair passage.
Tables: There are a number of tables that are perfect for wheelchair diners in Saffron, and they are all located past the entry way, just at the edge of the dining area. Tables located further in are close together and difficult to get to in a wheelchair without asking people to move. Tables against the north wall, though lovely, are very difficult to navigate to without rolling over someone’s purse or coat. The restaurant is usually full (because it is wonderful!), so unless you have one of the close-to-the-entry tables, you are likely to have trouble getting to a table comfortably. You can solve this problem when you make a reservation. Wheelchairs fit under the tables easily, without getting hung up on table legs. The waitstaff are great about moving tables or chairs to maximize comfort and accessibility, but that can be embarrassing if there is someone in them!
Restrooms: Getting to the restrooms is a little challenging. There are two paths. One takes you through the dining area, and because of the close-together tables and the always-full restaurant, that path is hard for someone like me. You can also skirt that dining area, but if the house is full, some patrons may spill over into that path, as well, and you may still have to ask them to move. The restrooms are located in a T-shaped hallway, with the men’s room at the center of the T and the women’s at the left end of it. Once through the door of the women’s restroom, you have to make another turn to get into the bathroom. Once in, you’ll find a handicapped stall that is easy-to-access.
Photos of interior space online: Yes
Photos of entrances online: No
Reservations taken: Yes. When you call to reserve a table, let them know that you will be coming in with a wheelchair and specifically ask for a table at the entry to the dining area, rather than deeper in. Tell them Spoken Wheel highly recommended them!
What the wheelchair pusher has to say: Getting into the front door is almost impossible. Getting through the outer door, trying to navigate through what is stacked up there, is really hard. You always hope there are many people waiting because you are going to need help with both the outer and the inner doors. Once you are inside, everything is great. And when you leave the restaurant, don’t forget to look up into the night sky.
Overall: Four wheels for good access, except for entry-way challenges and the pathway to the bathroom.
Photo credit for garlic naan: www.foodspotting.com