Taste: Au Corant
There is a new chef in town
By Jan Walsh // Photography by Beau Gustafson
Satterfield’s Restaurant has welcomed a new executive chef, Tripp Mauldin. Located on Cahaba Heights Road just below The Summit, Satterfield’s is open for dinner Mondays through Saturdays.
Mauldin stands on the shoulders of executive pastry chef and owner Becky Satterfield. She opened the restaurant in 2005 and has since developed close, loyal relationships with local farmers and regional purveyors who supply the finest of food products and ingredients to Satterfield’s. And she supplies produce when in season from her own organic garden. Satterfield also supports the organic food movement, and proudly boasts the Alabamians for GMO Labeling initiative with the group’s logo on the menu. She also serves as president of the Birmingham Chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier International (LDEI), a select group of women who educate and mentor women in culinary professions.
A native Alabamian, Mauldin attended the University of Alabama and graduated with a degree in Finance before graduating from Johnson and Wales University’s culinary school. He then moved to San Francisco to work with some of the top chefs in the Bay Area. Afterwards, he served as chef at Angele Restaurant in Napa, before returning home to Alabama. Here he had stints at Montgomery Country Club and Side by Side in Tuscaloosa. In the kitchen with Mauldin is Brittany Garrigus, who whips up almost-too-pretty-to-eat desserts in her role as Chef de Pâtisserie.
The restaurant has two entries, one door leading into the dining room, and the other to the bar. The ambience of both spaces is warm and welcoming in tones of sage and cinnamon. The bar is anchored by two circular banquettes in each corner of the exterior wall, with tables in between. Televisions in the bar draw patrons who enjoy pairing dinner with football. The dining room has its own spectator sport, watching chef Mauldin prepare dinner in the open kitchen. 50-yard line seats are also available at the Chef’s Counter. The restaurant also has a private dining room for intimate events or business dinners and a patio for al fresco dining.
Tonight we have a before-dinner drink at our favorite corner seats at the bar, where we sip cocktails of Jungle Bird and Chocolate Martini. The Jungle Bird is one of their specialty cocktails. This luscious rum-based tropical drink is melon in color with a foamy white head, served on the rocks in a generous glass with lime and mint. The chocolate martini is a frosty, creamy treat that is not too sweet to the appetite.
We begin dinner with glasses of Champagne, a plate of their beautiful breads and two salads—a butter lettuce salad and heirloom tomato salad. The butter lettuce salad is crowned with sliced muscadine grapes, crisp apple slices, pecan halves, and crumbles of blue cheese in a honey-balsamic vinaigrette. One bite of these muscadines, and I am eating a sweet memory. My grandmother had a muscadine vine that I picked, eating the grapes while playing in her yard as a child. The tomato salad is equally as delicious. A variety of colors and flavors of juicy Habersham Farms heirlooms are dotted with cucumbers, yellow corn, and bits of bacon, which add bites of texture. The salad is formed in a semi-circular shape enveloping a dollop of classic green goddess dressing, providing creaminess to round out this dish. Meanwhile, with the tomato season ending soon, an appetizer of fried green tomatoes is also a must. The golden, fried tomatoes arrive in a tower of three layered with a succulent blue crab salad, with sieved egg and a Tabasco dressing. Highly recommended. We also order another fried appetizer, fritto misto. This mix of fried Gulf oysters, snapper, shrimp, and okra is crisp and golden on the outside and succulent on the inside. It is served with a tasty house gribiche for dipping.
Entrée selections of seared sea scallops, Jurgielewicz Farm duck breast, and bacon wrapped pork tenderloin arrive next. Three large, pan-seared scallops float above bites of Conecuh sausage, yellow corn, potatoes, and bell peppers in a lovely corn coulis, which add a heap of heartiness to the delicate scallops. Two generous, thick slices of duck breast are accompanied by an array of colors and layers of flavors from its fresh blackberries, beets, and baby carrots bursting with freshness, and a sweet potato puree. And the tender and juicy pork tenderloin—encased in thick, crisp bacon—towers above a bed of smashing tomato gravy dotted with shiitake mushrooms, rattlesnake beans, a scrumptious chow-chow, and a gorgeous grit cake. If you love pork, order this dish.
Desserts are always a must at Satterfield’s. And tonight I see my favorite cake on the menu, German chocolate. Garrigus’ take on the cake is not like any other. This dark, decadent petite chocolate cake in a rich, dark chocolate ganache is dolloped with crème fraiche, encrusted with candied pecans and drizzled with a salty caramel that makes me close my eyes as it awakes my palate. My German great-grandmother would be jealous. •