An inexplicable curse addles many of Victoria’s finest buildings. Entrepreneurs come to these spaces, appear to thrive, and quickly disappear into the void only to be replaced by another, often lesser, business within a month: and so, the cycle continues.
Such is the case with #103-535 Yates Street. While the charred remnants of a building that began as one of Victoria’s first hotels boasts beautiful vaulted ceilings and classy lighting which, combined, make for a perfectly atmospheric night out on the town, restaurants have traditionally inhabited the place only temporarily– 535 Yates is a veritable revolving door of restaurateurs.
Thankfully, the curse is now broken. When Saaz opened its doors on December 12th of last year, it was obvious that the owners were intent on becoming Victoria’s premier Indian food destination. They have succeeded in their mission: Saaz breathes life into the building they inhabit and, indeed, into the entire town. Saaz offers many staples of Indian cuisine such as seasonal fish pakoras, lentil daal and butter chicken curry, all of which are featured in their inexpensive lunchtime buffet. Saaz’s standout dishes, however, are much less conventional: these are the dishes I come back for.
While beef is hardly a traditional Indian fare, Saaz’s red wine marinated short ribs are the most tender and succulent I have ever eaten. For the vegetarians out there, I recommend the Portobello mushrooms and red bell pepper with a fenugreek cream or the kale, potato white radish with onions tomatoes and tumeric. All of these dishes are medium to mild in terms of heat, but they explode with spice.
Saaz brings consistency to a formerly inconsistent space. The locally sourced meats cook for over four hours in their respective sauces, making for the most flavorful Indian fare in town and the service is beyond exceptional. Saaz’s sommelier server expertly pairs his carefully selected wines with skillfully prepared food.
It is clear that Saaz is here to stay; the restaurant’s unique take on Indian cuisine will be enjoyed by all for years to come.
Saaz is open for lunch Mon-Sun 11:30 am-2:30 pm, a lunch buffet Mon-Fri 11:30 am- 2:30 pm, and for dinner Mon-Sun 5:00 pm-10:00 pm.
Words by Nick Lyons, photography by Ilijc Albanese.