Photography by Beau Gustafson
My first meal at Satterfield’s was 10 years ago; I reviewed the restaurant soon after it opened. Most impressed, I interviewed pastry chef and owner Becky Satterfield and was further impressed by her ambitious aspirations. She foresaw Satterfield’s becoming one of the “best of the best” restaurants in Birmingham, which happened quickly. Reading the review I published in 2005, I see much of what Satterfield’s is today was there from the start. Satterfield’s has evolved through the years into a more mature, better version of its original self. Today it is one of a few non-GMO (genetically modified organisms) restaurants in the area and supports the Alabamians for GMO Labeling initiative.
Located in Cahaba Heights, Satterfield’s serves dinner Mondays through Saturdays. Welcomed by a valet and the warm glow of copper gas lanterns, we head to the bar to enjoy a cocktail before dinner. With soft tones of sage and cinnamon, the bar is anchored by two circular banquettes in each corner of the exterior wall, with tables in between. And an L-shaped bar welcomes us to pull up a stool. Duo Carlos Pino on jazz guitar and Brandon Peeples on upright bass perform while bartender Michael Cholewa prepares our cocktails. The signature drink, an Oak Aged Manhattan, has my name all over it and Prosperity, which tastes like apple pie, is “made for” Kevin. Afterward, we dine in the main dining room, which boasts the same color schemes and warm, inviting ambiance, including an open kitchen and chef’s counter. The restaurant also offers a private dining room for intimate events or business dinners and a patio for al fresco dining.
Since the restaurant’s opening, Satterfield has been in a league of her own—a female sole owner, chef of a locally owned, independent, fine dining restaurant. Her mantra is that good food comes from good intentions. Satterfield ensures quality food products via close relationships with local farmers and purveyors, as well as her own organic garden. Down to the seeds used to plant the products, Satterfield has kept a watchful eye and control over what comes into her kitchen. But she also credits her solid, committed team for making and keeping Satterfield’s successful. Executive chef Patrick Horn and general manager Kevin Moore have been here from the start. Seniority is also found in business manager Barbara Dawson; servers Lucky Solis, Ryan Ernst, and Barry Graham; and man of many hats German Perez. Tonight we watch the open kitchen show as Horn, sous chef Joon Reid, and the kitchen staff execute another amazing dinner.
An array of beautiful breads—raisin, olive, sourdough, cornbread—arrives with a generous plate of butter. We bow to server Graham’s offer to pair Satterfield’s wine list with our meal. He gets off to a great start with Domaine Auchere Sancerre 2012, pairing it with my longtime favorite dish here, Satterfield’s coddled egg. Tonight’s egg dish is even better than before, as it is lighter with Gulf crabmeat having replaced its Andouille sausage. On first cut, the yolk of this beautiful farm egg runs down the white souffle dish and into the cheesy mix of crabmeat, mirepoix, and kale. Gently folding in the egg white, I savor every morsel with each bite. Next is a beautiful, melt-in-the-mouth seared Ahi tuna carpaccio, topped with jumbo lump crab salad and accompanied by a gorgeous ponzu gelée. The tender tuna is paired with the lovely effervescence of Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Champagne.
Grenache Syrah Domaine Coudoulis 2012 is a match for the duck and waffle. A large, delicious duck leg confit rests atop two pungent, sweet onion waffles, which we slather with caramel butter and cover in maple syrup. Our next course is a luscious citrus-braised pork belly with house-made kimchi, encircled by a teriyaki glaze, topped with sesame, and garnished with cilantro—and finally, paired with Montinore Estate Borealis 2013. The favorite dish of the evening is a stunning pan-roasted Gulf red snapper—the thickest cut of snapper ever. Golden-reddish on the outside, white and milky on the inside, and succulent throughout, every bite is perfect. It is served atop a warm, crunchy Bok Choy fennel slaw with saffron butter and a blood orange reduction. Surprisingly, the fish is paired with a red Jigsaw 2012 Pinot Noir, but opposites work well in this marriage. For dessert, we are wowed by the chocolate almond butter cake with a bottom layer of almonds, accompanied by dreamy chocolate ice cream.