Restaurant Review: Southwest Austin Dining
Reviewed by Virginia B. Wood, Fri., June 4, 2010
Mon.-Thu., 4:30pm-9:30pm; Fri.-Sat., 11am-10:30pm; Sun., 10am-9:30pm
Satellite Bistro & Bar5900 Slaughter #400, 288-9994
Monday-Thursday, 11am-9pm; Friday, 11am-10pm; Saturday, 9am-10pm; Sunday, 9am-9pm
The Kamburis brothers' Austin restaurant empire has expanded and contracted along with the economy in recent years. Currently, their original Flipnotics serves coffee drinks, locally sourced snacks, and live music to a loyal clientele on Barton Springs Road restaurant row, while their newer Satellite Bistro is packing in diners near Circle C Ranch. The midcentury modern bistro replaces the funkier Flip's Satellite Cafe lost to potential roadway development in Oak Hill. The big new space still has the Jetsons-style décor but offers a comfortable patio for enjoying jazz and Western swing and a cozy bar with a flat-screen TV tuned to sports that is visible but not obtrusive. On a recent Saturday the Satellite was full – music lovers on the patio, baseball fans at the bar, families, dates, and ladies'-night-out parties filling the dining room – a regular neighborhood hot spot.
In addition to a comfortable space and friendly, welcoming service, the attraction here appears to be the affordable, mainstream menu with something to appeal to everyone. Our group of five had appetizers, entrées, and desserts (no beer, wine, or cocktails) for just under $100 and went home satisfied. Although all the food was flavorful, we discovered that the kitchen can have timing issues on busy nights. For instance, the only jolt of heat on our plate of Cosmic Crab Cakes ($8.99) came from the pool of jalapeño aioli under the room-temperature discs of crab and breading. The entrées further demonstrated the problem: My single-cut pork chop ($12.99) was obviously hot off the grill and artfully presented on top of cold mashed potatoes; the dinner special of mahimahi ($17.99) was paired with toothsome risotto and grilled asparagus, but the lovely fish was overcooked; the crab-topped bistro trout ($14.99) with Israeli couscous and a sautéed vegetable medley offered delicious flavor combinations, but the whole plate was lukewarm at best, a fate that also befell the tasty stacked enchiladas ($11.99). The prepared plates obviously sat long enough to cool while the pork chop was finished on the grill. Despite the temperature issues, we enjoyed our meal and agreed we would give the Satellite another shot any time we're in the area – maybe for music and burgers next time.