Sunday, November 21, 2010

Heavenly Sunday Brunch at Satellite Bistro & Bar

My old co-worker and friend, Elsa Decker & I took to the Sunday Brunch scene last Sunday, November 14th and met at locally owned and operated Satellite Bistro & Bar. Located west of South Mopac at the corner of Slaughter & Escarpment, this family owned concept of eating great food in a relaxed atmosphere, was created by brothers, Mark and Marty Kamburis. The brothers have continued a family tradition, inspired by their Grandfather's arrival from Greece in 1912 and ensuing experiences in the food business.

Scouring their online Brunch Menu prior to the morning of 11/14, NEVER-ENDING MIMOSAS'S were listed at $6.75 per person. Elsa & I talked about this for days! Clearly, part of our catch-up/gab session was dependent on bottomless flutes of champagne and orange juice. After arriving at 10:30 a.m. and meeting our fine server, Casey, we exuberantly ordered our never-ending mimosas and complimented this glorious menu item. Sadly, Casey broke our hearts a little and said that due to TABC Regulations, Satellite had to discontinue their "never-ending" mimosa's and instead offer a controlled carafe option with fixed price. I said..."update your online MENU, Casey!" By the looks of it, their webmaster DID later that night at 6:23 p.m. Never-ending aside, the liter sized carafe was near perfection and set the stage for our 2.5 hour brunch...

After eyeballing the Satellite Bistro & Bar Brunch Menu and salivating over their options, both Breakfast In Austin and Elsa were feeling the pull toward one of five styled Eggs Benedict. Always a sucker for the traditional benedict, Breakfast In Austin opted for a slight spin called the "Poached Club". Think seared country ham, smoked turkey and bacon placed over two toasted english muffins and topped with 2 perfectly poached eggs & a subtle hollandaise sauce. Seriously delicious and pushing toward the #1 bennie in town. As if the meat concoction and hollandaise sauce wasn't enough, Satellite adds a lusciously rich & flavorful Scalloped Potato as the main side along with a bowl of fresh fruit. Priced well at $10.99.

Elsa's Eggs Benedict choice was labeled the "Flying Saucer". Clever name Satellite Bistro! Obviously the same concept as the "Poached Club" with english muffins, poached eggs & hollandaise. But the toppings? Imagine roasted portabella mushrooms, roasted red peppers, feta cheese and avocado. Elsa loved the plated food, especially the Scalloped Potatoes, though described her hollandaise experience as nondescript.

Dessert? Chocolate? Elsa insisted we indulge on one of Satellite's specials of the day - the Chocolate Cake Pancake. Good move for Breakfast In Austin. Thanks a lot, Elsa. Not a lot more needs to be said other than this delicious cake housing chunks of chocolate was oversized and worthy. Worthy of Satellite Bistro & Bar offering it as a post brunch dessert for all at the table to share.

As I write and wrap up this posting, Breakfast In Austin can only guess as to where the "Satellite" name came from, so I offer this little spin. One of the many definitions of Satellite is, "any celestial body orbiting around a star or planet." Elsa was the star and Breakfast in Austin, the planet. The celestial bodies? A few! Our phenomenal server, Casey, who offered the perfect blend of attentiveness and information. The liter sized Carafe (or Holy Grail) of Mimosas offering approximately 8 flutes for $11.99. The food being flavorful and impressively gorgeous. Satellite's atmosphere which was light, vibrant and relaxing. Perhaps even the deceased Grandfather Kamburis keeping an eye on any case, several celestial bodies orbiting at Satellite Bistro & Bar. As it should be for all us stars and planets...

It's all about the feast, not the famine!

To learn more about Satellite Bistro & Bar, visit their website at

To view Satellite's Sunday Brunch Menu, go to

Pros: Stand-out service, relaxing & hip atmosphere, liter sized mimosa carafe, varied & exciting Brunch menu, Eggs Benedict, Scalloped Potatoes
Cons: Having a hard time coming up with any...
Suggestions: Make your "Chocolate Cake Pancake" a menu item and encourage ALL to buy one and share as dessert after brunch

Satellite Bistro & Bar ~ 5900 Slaughter Ln., #400, Austin, TX 78749 ~ 512.288.9994

Monday, November 15, 2010

Aaron Mayers & The Red Carpet at Manny's Uptown Kitchen...

Work and play go well together, right? Right! On this particular Thursday morning, Breakfast In Austin decided to visit locally owned Manny's Uptown Kitchen on Research Boulevard & 360, near Crate & Barrel and Whole Foods in the Gateway Shopping Center. There was definitely something different about this breakfast extravaganza. This was the first time I'd invited a client to partake in my feasting for the purpose of Breakfast In Austin. I'd also been encouraged through Manny's on Twitter to say "hello" to the Owner. I went back & forth on making contact, but what a mixed blessing that turned out to be. My typical style is to dine unannounced, soliciting nothing from ownership or management. The only thing that gives Breakfast In Austin away is the flash of a Nikon and even then I might be tagged only as an odd tourist or a nameless critic.

Reviewing should be authentic, right? If Breakfast In Austin accepts all the generosity an Owner provides, like endless plates and a free tab, then how do I supply unbiased comments? I want a Server who isn't on his best behavior. Was Owner, Aaron Mayers showcasing his best dishes? YES! Was Owner, Aaron Mayers a gracious and friendly host? Of course! Was Owner, Aaron Mayers hoping to position me for a glowing review? Hmmm. Possibly. I will say that in accepting the tour of Manny's dishes, I let the Owner know that I always search out a restaurant's "pros," supply honest commentary and would pick up my own tab. In the end, Aaron Mayers insisted on comping our meal. Breakfast In Austin feeling humble and full, accepted, vowing to remain unbiased.

The breakfast items? After showing slight hesitation when being asked what we'd like to eat, Aaron recommended and presented a string of dishes created to showcase Manny's unique East Coast style. My client, not expecting the Breakfast In Austin angle, rolled with the punches and dove into each dish with me! Thanks, Paul for being such a sport.

The first? A dessert! The impressive Izzy's Blintzes were prepared with a traditional soft farm fresh cheese and topped with fresh strawberries, a berry glaze and powdered sugar. Appealing to the senses with a delicate blend of subtle and sweet, this was an ideal roll-out choice and hit.

Our next delivered item was Manny's Bagel & Lox. The Alaskan in me adores a cured salmon filet, so it's not often that this stand-out doesn't satisfy. In Manny's presentation, I experienced a mixture of flavors including a plain and rather lackluster New York bagel, topped with a thin layer of cream cheese, thinly sliced lox, tomato, lettuce, red onion and capers. Overall, a satisfying attempt, but I've had better lox and prefer a softer more flavorful bagel. My client, Paul, recommended an everything or seasoned bagel would add more zest.

The third dish of Uptown Hash was perhaps our most interesting because of the plated variety. Already feeling full and giggling like kids, Paul and I wondered how in the hell we were going to stomach this barrage of food. Gorgeous in presentation and ultimately my clients favorite, we enjoyed two perfectly fried eggs atop an inventive hash of onion, bell peppers, corned beef & pastrami. As if this wasn't enough our sides included two potato pancakes and toast with whipped butter. The potato pancakes were a new experience for Breakfast In Austin. I loved the taste but the cakes were so filling I could only eat a few bites.

Next up? Manny's Pan-Roasted Spinach, Mushroom and Swiss Omelet. This was by far my favorite first bite of the morning and mind you, Paul and I were completely and utterly full. If you're a fan of these ingredients, I highly recommend this savory and memorable creation...

...and finally, the last item! Stomachs stunned and taste buds nearly shot, Aaron Mayers presented Grandma's Streudel in all her apple, raisin, cinnamon and sugary splendor. I'm convinced Grandma was dutifully baking in Manny's kitchen equipped with her hairnet and apron. An amazing dessert made to order and in less than 15 minutes - a suitable way to end our experience at Manny's Uptown Kitchen.

A big thank you to Aaron Mayers and his staff at Manny's Uptown Kitchen for an enjoyable two hour experience. There is a dish for everyone at Manny's, so if you haven't been and are looking for a new breakfast joint - this might be a new find for you...

...and Aaron, I hope you do make good on adding a worthy Eggs Benedict that will knock my socks off. Breakfast In Austin will be back.

It's all about the feast, not the famine!

To find out more about Manny's Uptown Kitchen, check them out at:

Even BETTER? Breakfast All Day!

Pros: Breakfast all day, desserts (blintzes & streudel) are amazing, inventive dishes, quick turn in kitchen, service, good location in NW Austin, all breakfast items under $10
Cons: Not a fan of your NY bagel and it's something you hang your hat on! Not a fan of the hash either...
Suggestions: Work on improving your lox & bagel dish (it has all the right components but better lox? better bagel?)

Manny's Uptown Kitchen ~ 9503 Research Blvd., Suite 650, Austin, TX 78759 ~ 512.794.0088

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Death by Fork at Jack Allen's Kitchen!

In the mood for Southern home-cooked food? Jack Allen's Kitchen kindly obliges with their 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Sunday Brunch. Locally owned, Chef Jack Gilmore and the Jack Allen's crew reinvents old standards and supplies a powerfully satisfying experience, although it borders on a heart attack in the making. Show up, eat to your hearts content and depart feeling completely and utterly stuffed. The kind of stuffed where you can't even burp. Baked Macaroni and Cheese? Chicken Fried Chicken with Green Chile Gravy? Chicken Fried Pork? Sausages? Twice Baked Potatoes? This is definitely how Grandma killed Grandpa...

To those of you who have heard of Jack Allen's Kitchen but haven't been, it's discreetly tucked away from downtown, just northwest of Highway 290 on 71. You might recall the previous Y Bar & Grill? That's the place. Jack Allen's prides itself on good ol' Texas hospitality, is known for using locally sourced, fresh ingredients and creating unique dishes.

How did Breakfast In Austin arrive at Jack Allen's Kitchen? You can imagine my list of breakfast joints, brunch stops & trailers is LONG. Sometimes it's near impossible to choose a place to eat, let alone review. I love recommendations! After a full weekend of celebration and spirits, including a friends wedding, football games & Halloween mischief, recent nods were worth listening to and Jack Allen's quickly rose atop my list. A southern influenced, artery clogging, $12.99 Sunday Brunch would certainly cure any hangover, right? Right!

G-Man and I arrived five minutes early at 9:55 a.m. To my surprise there were several cars parked in the Jack Allen's lot with diners waiting on the sidewalk and hovering near the main entrance. A very good sign. Promptly at 10:00 a.m. the doors magically opened. The hostess staff was welcoming and on point, immediately seating us near the buffet area. Our server? A nice guy, who was ultimately - casual. Didn't quite catch his name and although attentive he had to return a second time to explain Jack Allen's made to order items separate from the buffet line.

The way JAK does it! (Sund'y Brunch, that is)

Once seated, ask your Server for a drink and anything made to order. Specifically, farm fresh eggs your way, biscuits & gravy or pancakes. I asked to indulge in their $3.50 Brunch Bloody Mary and sample their Biscuits & Gravy. The Bloody Mary? Not strong or very spicy. The Biscuit & Gravy? Terrific because of Jack Allen's signature Green Chile Gravy. Completely memorable!

I must admit that Jack Allen's presentation of their Sunday Buffet was a hit with me! As you walk the line, all items are gorgeous, stocked and ready to go at 10:00 a.m. There were some clear successes! A few of the items you'll find with comments & photographs:

Chicken Fried Chicken covered with Green Chile Gravy (This signature Gravy makes everything taste better - back right in photo below)

Smoked Salmon Spread (amazing)

Twice Baked Mashed Potatoes (heavy but tasty)
Baked Macaroni & Cheese (put me in a damn near coma it was so good!)

Mama's Sunday Chicken (not my personal favorite - not a huge fan of dark meat)

Farm fresh veggies (healthiest thing I ate)

Migas (Tasty but not enough tortilla cooked into the blend)
Deviled Eggs (Flavorful)
Farm fresh salads (Pasta salad was a hit)
Layered Enchilada Casserole (lackluster in taste, just fair)
Desserts (dry)

"It's all about the feast, not the famine," (Breakfast In Austin's catchphrase) is an ideal way to explain my experience at Jack Allen's Kitchen. Their southern styled dishes are comforting and delicious but holy heart attack, I could hardly move, let alone breathe for a couple of hours after. Eat at your own risk and don't say I didn't warn you!

Thank you Jack Allen's Kitchen for a fine Sunday Brunch and yes, the cure to my self inflicted hangover. Breakfast In Austin will spread the word and return. But next time for lunch, dinner or happy hour...

JAK is happy to take your reservation by email, phone or just show up! Remember Sunday Brunch is only $12.99 per person and the 12 & under crew is $5.99 per.

To learn more about Jack Allen's Kitchen, go to and for details on Jack's Amazing Sund'y Brunch, go to

Pros: Lowest cost brunch I've seen in awhile, great quality & creative dishes, nice atmosphere, outdoor patio for seating, Texas hospitality, ample staff, tons of signage
Cons: Our Server was a bit too casual - nice guy but missed a few steps in explaining the set-up and taking our order
Suggestions: Don't hide the yogurt & granola on the table by the window - I could've used some of that

Jack Allen's Kitchen ~ 7720 Highway 71 West, Austin, TX 78735 ~ Email: ~ 512.852.8558