Winter is the perfect time to explore the natural stone shelters where native Arkansans once lived
Satellite Cafe, a minimalist-style bistro on the corner of Kavanaugh and University, has never failed us culinarily. Its breakfasts of huge cottage cheese pancakes and French toast and lump crab omelets, its coffee served in breakfast D cups and the clatter of dishes and chit-chat are what pass for urbane in Little Rock, and the food is up to the ambiance and character of its menu.
Satellite served dinner when it first opened some years ago but quit for murky reasons probably having to do with a hyperactive staff. Now, Satellite has come full circle and gotten back in the dinner business, from Wednesday through Sunday. It’s shown itself to be as reliably good at dinner as at lunch, and by good we mean much better than we can make at home and good enough to go back.
We got the feeling on a recent Friday night that perhaps Satellite hasn’t fully beamed the word that it’s open after dark. Our table was one of just a few being served at any one time, and that’s a shame, because almost without exception we were enjoying a pile of food with wine served, as the coffee is in the morning, in large, full glasses, thank you very much.
The restaurant felt quite intimate and informal with so little competition for the waiter’s attention that we found ourselves hollering across the room for more of the toasted and oiled naan, fantastic with the very rich spinach and artichoke dip. (We also found ourselves hollering at one another, because there weren’t enough bodies or other cushioning to soak up the singing coming from the guitarist in the corner. His mike was completely unnecessary in such a space. We enjoyed him anyway. Mark David’s CD was handed to us on the way out for free ... thank you very much.) It was a struggle to resist filling up on the naan and dip, but worthwhile, because the homemade meatloaf that arrived shortly afterward was the size of an Acme brick, or, as our dining companion called it, a “honking” brick. The loaf was baked, then finished off on the grill and surrounded by vegetables; garlic mashed potatoes were cuddled up beside it. Not a bit of this special was left at the end of the evening.
One of us was on a diet and so ordered the steak salad: New York strip over spinach with red onion and tomatoes and blue and jack cheeses sprinkled on the top. It’s tritely put, but true, that the strip was melt-in-the-mouth good. This is a great meal for someone who wants to go out without growing out.
A grilled chicken burrito also came to the table, the bird wrapped in a flour tortilla with jasmine rice, beans and guacamole. Delectable, and hearty enough for leftovers.
If there was a failing, it was the grilled salmon special. The fish, coated with a champagne “bourblanc” (which we feel sure should be spelled beurreblanc, an error about which also we feel sure the management gives not the slightest damn), was a tad dry, and didn’t compare with the diner’s usual source of grilled salmon, Loca Luna. This is correctable, of course (the preparation of the fish if not the spelling of the sauce). But the salmon eater didn’t carp too much, because the gin and tonic he ordered was tasty and not overpriced.
Also on the dinner menu are shrimp quesadillas, made with jumbo gulf shrimp; shish kabobs, another great dish for dieters; and char-grilled pork chop, which dieters will be tempted to order anyway, since it’s served with apple chutney.
At lunch, try the grilled New York strip, sage and brie on grilled Italian bread sandwich. If you want, you can have that with sweet potato cakes. Or cheese grits. Or black beans. Or French fries ... . Satellite’s circling the world here; tune in.
5923 Kavanaugh Blvd.
Don’t let the baby-faced and hip staff throw you; the menu has character and the food here is reliably good. There’s also a drive-in window if you just want to grab a cappuccino and keep going.
Entrees at night are in the $16 to $18 range; you can order off the lunch menu at night, however, and keep it under $12.
7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.