Divine is in the details at Satterfield’s.
By Jan Walsh
Photography by Beau Gustafson
Great restaurants don’t just happen. They are born of both imagination and execution. Pastry chef and owner, Becky Satterfield created a fine dining ambience that is relaxing rather than pretentious. She believes that every possible detail should be attended to, for each and every guest. And this belief is executed into a reality found in every detail of the restaurant—from the valet in waiting to the last bite of delectable dessert.
Conveniently located just behind The Summit, the restaurant has two entrances. One leads to the hostess counter who seats diners for dinner. The other one opens directly into the bar area, where an L-shaped wooden bar lines the interior wall with tables lining the opposite wall. In the dining room, tables are scattered about the center of the hardwood floors with brown leather banquettes wrapping around the olive toned walls toward the focal point of the restaurant—the chef’s counter. The open stainless kitchen provides a comforting backdrop for this white tablecloth, candle lit restaurant. Here pans sizzle and aromas rise as executive chef Haller Magee, and his staff, prepare dinner before your eyes.
Dinner begins with a black napkin, per my request, and a Roederer Estate Brut Rose NV from their Wine Spectator award-winning list. This food friendly, salmon colored, crisp and vibrant wine is properly chilled and kept to in an ice bucket stand nearby. Attentive server David Manning keeps our glasses filled, while balancing the bottle so that we finish the wine with dinner, rather than before.
A dish of piping hot bread, sour dough, raisin and petite corn bread muffins arrives with a generous pat of butter. While looking over the menus, we begin devouring the bread and are served more butter without asking. More bread is offered, as Manning’s splendid service continues. But I am not here to make a meal off this wonderful bread alone.
The menu is a mix of Old World and New World flavors that changes daily. Steaks, fresh seafood, veal, rabbit, quail served with French, Italian, Spanish or Mediterranean influences. Tonight there are two menus to choose between. The Early Bird Tasting Menu—available on Fridays and Saturdays between 5:30 and 6:15—and the regular menu, divided between appetizers and entrees. My husband, Kevin opts for the Tasting Menu. This four-course menu includes soup, salad, entree choice and beignets. I opt for the regular menu. But I find it difficult to choose only one appetizer and one entrée.
Appetizers of Hudson Valley Foie Gras au Torchon and the Soup of House Smoked Duroc Pork Shoulder tempt. Yet I can’t pass up the Coddled Egg. The dish arrives in an individual portion sized copper skillet with a brass handle. The poached, Averiett Ranch Farm egg rests in the center of the skillet filled with Louisiana crawfish, corn, bacon, and wild watercress. The heat of the crawfish, crunch of the sweet corn and mirepox, hearty bites of bacon, spicy heat, and lightness of the watercress meld together making for a superb and sumptuous dish. Highly recommended—it ranks among the best dishes I have ever tasted. And it is available only during Louisiana crawfish season, until mid-June. So catch it while you can! “The evolution of this dish has been fun to watch. We've added some things, then taken away some things, until I feel we've found what we were looking for in this dish,” Magee describes. “Right now I'm fortunate to be receiving wild watercress, and fresh farm eggs from Jon Wesson of Averiett Branch Farm. I believe that these wonderful quality ingredients help to make this simple dish even better.”
I do put my fork down to taste Kevin’s soup. It and other dishes on the tasting menu are served in proper, smaller portions. In a large white bowl with a small center, the tender, juicy pork is center stage here with white beans and deep green pieces of collards as the supporting cast. Kevin’s second course arrives while I am still savoring every nibble of the coddled egg dish. Crisp, Mixed Baby Organic Lettuces is tossed with pecans, Vermont Chevre, lovely slices of pear and citrus Dijon vinaigrette. The creaminess of the cheese and the crunch and heartiness of the pecan is balanced by the lightness of the lettuces, the juicy pear and the acidity of the vinaigrette—making this a lovely “in between” course. And arriving next for both of us is a chef’s surprise of Fried North Carolina Rabbit Liver atop a round of sour dough with a house made pepper jelly of roasted red pepper and shallot, finished with fresh mint and Italian parsley.
Among the entrees I find difficult to refuse are the Pan Roasted Gulf Black Grouper and Pan Seared Diver Scallops. I opt instead for a main course of Wild Gulf Shrimp, PEI mussels and braised Baby Octopus. The seafood is mixed with spring peas, yellow corn, sofrito, basil and wide and long flat ribbons of handcrafted tagliatelle (the classic pasta of the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy). And another creation of imagination is executed. Layers of vibrant colors, splendid flavors and interesting textures combine into another delectable dish. The Roulade of Tanglewood Farms Chicken Breast is served sliced, presenting the swirl of the filling—an olive and goat cheese stuffing. Fingerling potatoes, watercress and balsamic vinaigrette complement this moist, tender and tasty bird.
Dessert is the fourth and final course from the tasting menu. Tonight it is a dish of beignets and sautéed apples with homemade vanilla bean ice cream. I try to pass on the dessert menu but surrender to a tiny cup of phenomenal goat cheese sorbet, topped with candied beets and pecans, and drizzled with a divine 15-year-old balsamic vinegar.
From appetizers to desserts, what can be imagined is achieved at Satterfield’s.