A Modern Indian Bistro in the Third Ward Is So Close to Opening

Saffron will serve its first butter chicken to the Milwaukee masses on Saturday, June 4.

Fatima Kumar – whose Saffron Modern Indian Dining, is opening Saturday, June 4 – is serious about the “modern” word in the restaurant name. She mentions an “ever-fluctuating” menu, supporting local and smaller brands and giving lots of attention to plate presentation. Kumar operates this Third Ward spot (223 N. Water St., Suite 100) with her husband Hanish and brother-in-law and sister-in-law – Amrita and Manish Kumar.

“The vibe is going to be more contemporary,” says Kumar of the space, formerly a sports bar called Rivalry. “Indian food is [typically] casual – usually not your sit-down fine dining. But we will offer edible flowers and ‘smoke and fire’ in our plate presentation.”

Saffron’s butter chicken; photo courtesy of the restaurant

The partners lightened up the paint colors in the 60-70-seat dining room, refinished the floors, and added chandeliers and a custom-cut white quartz bar. There’s also a 20-seat patio on the river side of the building.

Menu items include pulled tandoori chicken bao buns, butter chicken and crispy cauliflower.

Hours: Tues.-Sun., with plans to serve lunch (11 a.m.-3 p.m.) and dinner (5-10 p.m.)

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Ann Christenson has covered dining for Milwaukee Magazine since 1997. She was raised on a diet of casseroles that started with a pound of ground beef and a can of Campbell's soup. Feel free to share any casserole recipes with her.