Then the city purchased the building and renovated it, and the Walker House became home to organizations like the San Dimas Festival of Arts and the San Dimas Historical Society. In 2009, the restaurant Saffron relocated to the building. The Queen Anne-style mansion sits on San Dimas Avenue, just north of the railroad tracks, the last surviving 1880s-era railroad hotel in Southern California.
A few weeks ago my brother - who bought a condo in San Dimas last year - told me about the Thursday "Pizza & Pinot" nights at Saffron, when pizzas, appetizers and Pinots (both Noir and Grigio) are all half price. I love pizza; I love Pinot; I love half price.
[My camera broke and the screen is now completely black. I cannot see or review any pictures I take; I just have to snap away and hope for the best. The menu pictures turned out a bizarre orange tint that hurts my eyes to look at, so I changed them all to black and white photos. I suppose it fits in with the old-time feel of Saffron.]
"Well," I said, "it is Pizza & Pinot night, so I will have the Pinot Noir."
We ordered two bottles of it. It turned out to be a 2010 Puerto Viejo, a Chilean Pinot, and it was actually quite tasty. There wasn't a lot to it - I did not expect a 2010 bottle for $9 (the happy hour price) to be spectacular - but it went very well with the food. We did not need two bottles; neither of my parents wanted more than a glass and my brother and Nick aren't big drinkers, so I ended up drinking about a bottle all by myself. Not that I'm complaining.
I originally asked what the "Chef's Creation Pizza" was: the server informed me it was ribeye steak, arugula, cheese, and a lemon yogurt sauce. That seemed awfully fancy. I asked if he'd tried it; he said yes and that, honestly, the other two pizzas were better. So I decided to get the tarragon pesto pizza.
Then my dad, brother, and Nick all ordered that. I didn't want us to be that table, where everyone gets the same thing, so I ordered the chef's creation. And I have to admit, it was much better than I expected. The steak was very good and the oil-kissed arugula was a beautiful complement. The lemon yogurt sauce was overwhelming when you got a bite without steak or much arugula ("That's freaking weird," my brother said upon tasting the yogurt) but overall the three flavors worked well together.
Overall, I really liked the experience at Saffron. It strikes the right balance between casual and fancy. I would love to return in the spring or summer and sit at one of the tables on the veranda. Even with the two bottles of wine and appetizers, dinner worked out to just over twenty dollars per person, a good deal. (But if it hadn't been happy hour, the bill would have been twice as much, and I cannot say that it would have been worth it.)
I am looking forward to returning to Saffron and trying their lunch menu, which, as is often the case, looks better to me than their regular dinner menu. I am particularly interested in trying the "Spicy Lousiana Sausage Link Sandwich." I will let you know how it goes.