8.12.2013

HudsonRW: Satis Bistro


RER 8.6.13
Entering Satis Bistro, in the quiet neighborhood of Paulus Hook, Jersey City, is like entering a portal that shifts time and transports to somewhere else. The space is a maze of minute details, like a museum, but it is still breathing, alive with the movement of time, people and food. There are pictures in frames hung purposefully on a small wall, and a tall communal table under a giant chalk board with latin scrawled in a rainbow of colors, and there are green hanging plants seated in the high windows, drawing the eye up to the very tall ceilings and eventually to a second lofted dining area. Even the powder room felt aged and lived in. But a visible kitchen, where some appetizers and cheese plates are prepared, is its own space, completely different than the rest, and thrown further back in time, underlined by rustic touches of benches for seating and rough pillows throughout the venue. 

RER 8.6.13

RER 8.6.13
The restaurant has a definite atmosphere, a kind of allure like the scent of fatty short ribs, gnocchi pillows, and red wine vibrato. Somehow there is a swirling of place and time, until neither is quite distinguishable, but the flavors reign and solid technique soars. Either through the super chilled avocado vichyssoise, with almost enough charred corn, summer tomatoes and watercress coulis, floating just so in the middle of the creamy and rich soup. Or the cheese plate appetizer with its haphazard elegance of apricot chutney, hot with mustard seeds, or the red ribbon of prosciutto and fat, and crusty bread.

RER 8.6.13

RER 8.6.13
Even what seems as straightforward as meat and potatoes or simple pasta, was elevated to something luxurious and comfortable at the same time. The short ribs, tender with time and seasoning, were fatty and surrounded by a bold peppery sauce, which balanced the richness, and enlivened the starch of the tangy goat cheese mashed potatoes. An addition of tiny cubes of chorizo, pushed the dish further. The mixture of  varied textures created a pieced together harmony, much like the d├ęcor of the restaurant.

JAR 8.6.13

RER 8.6.13
This play on the expected and the unexpected puzzle continued with the surprising gnocchi. There were not the little dots of doughy dumplings that are asssumed; but these were like little biscuits, pillows of ricotta with the essence of citrus and browned. The six fluffy dumplings were highlighted by a creamy sauce, gently wilted escarole, firm white beans and sweet roasted garlic. The dish was rich and reminiscent of home, comfort and familiarity, but the quality and technique equated refinement.

RER 8.6.13
RER 8.6.13
The sundaes, however, were an easy way out, strikingly contrasting the effort put into every other detail. There were not the careful and pristine elements constructed into the melty moments of chocolate and vanilla ice cream drenched in caramel and dashed in toasted coconut and meaty nuts, or the round balls of unnatural strawberry and vanilla disguising a dense sweet corn pound cake, as in other facets of the restaurant.  They were easy and effortless though, like the amalgamation of flavors and the mixed aesthetic. The sundaes did not transport across sea and continent, but rather, back in time to childhood and midnight concoctions.

RER 8.6.13

RER 8.6.13
Every element of Satis is orchestrated, creating an experience that does not stop at the food— it is an atmosphere, a transformation of a small space into an anonymous bistro in another part of the world. Its European roots are demonstrated through charcuterie, pastas, meats and fishes, a blend of the old and new and near and far.
RER
8.6.13
RER 8.6.13

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