Photo by Tiffany Young
Retro eatery blends casual and upscale dining
Mark and Marty Kamburis, the brothers behind the Barton Springs Road coffee shop Flipnotics, have created another Austin mainstay in Satellite Bistro & Bar.
While they sold Flipnotics in 2009, they are still involved in the food and beverage industry with their casual but upscale restaurant.
It was Mark who originally moved to Austin from the brothers’ hometown of Houston and came up with the concept of having a coffee shop upstairs and clothing boutique downstairs at the Barton Springs location. He asked Marty to join him.
Marty had been in the food and beverage industry since he was 14 years old and had done everything from working behind the counter at Chick-fil-A to managing a Houston’s Restaurant. With his experience in the kitchen, Marty began adding sandwiches to the coffee bar’s offerings.
In 1999, the Kamburis brothers bought a second “satellite” location of Flipnotics in Oak Hill, hence the name Satellite Cafe. But this time, Marty hired a chef and began extending the menu to include more and more food items.
“I just didn’t see myself owning a coffee shop in my 60s or 70s, so I thought we could kind of grow older with this concept,” Mark said.
When highway construction began around 2006 near the cafe, the brothers started looking for a new location, which is how they opened Satellite Bistro & Bar in October 2006 on Slaughter Lane.
“We decided to take it up a notch at night,” Mark said. “It’s a casual, upscale eatery with more of an ambience similar to downtown at night.”
In 2008, they closed the cafe, leaving them to focus on the bistro.
When asked to choose the top three menu items, Mark quickly says he knows what his favorite is, to which Marty says, “I know what your favorite is, too.”
Mark’s favorite dish is the orchid chicken ($14.99), which is on the dinner menu.
“Orchid chicken is a chicken breast stuffed with goat cheese and herbs pan-seared with an orchid flower buerre blanc, served with basmati rice and sauteed spinach and mushrooms, served with a flower as garnish,” Marty said.
The other favorites are the champagne Gorgonzola salad ($4.99 small, $7.99 large) and the 10 oz. pork chop ($13.99), which is marinated for a demi-glace. Chicken, tofu, shrimp, salmon or beef tenderloin tips can be added to a salad for an additional cost.
The brothers are not the only ones in the family with entrepreneurial success.
In 1912, their grandfather George came to America from Greece to Montgomery, Ala., first pushing a cart around selling ice cream for money until he could afford a fruit stand, which led to opening the Coffee Pot, a cafe. After the cafe burnt down, he and his brother, Antonio, opened a larger restaurant, The Normandy Cafe.
Now Marty and Mark follow in their grandfather’s footsteps of serving food and coffee in their own cafe.
Upon driving up to Satellite Bistro’s front door, one finds a large patio and courtyard shaded by trees with lots of seating.
Inside, the restaurant has a full-size bar near the entrance. The furniture is 1950s-inspired, including the starburst patterns known from the era and retro shades of blue and orange.
A lounge is open in the evening with a baby grand piano, where music is played on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. and Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. During the day, a curtain closes the room off from the dining area. A live music calendar can also be found at www.satellitebistroandbar.com.
The wallpaper in the lounge was made with two different photos of Austin—one taken in the 1920s of swimmers at Barton Springs and another of the Austin skyline in the 1960s. Look for things that don’t belong in the original photo, such as a golfer playing golf on the Barton Springs lawn, a billboard with Satellite Bistro’s name and a photo of one of the owner’s dogs.
The food menu
Co-owner Marty Kamburis said the bistro’s food is inspired by the idea that a family of six could all find something appealing on the menu.
During the day, Satellite Bistro serves burgers, salads and a few entrees. The night menu adds fancier fare to its offerings.
In addition to its lunch and dinner menus, as of Jan. 21, the restaurant serves a weekend brunch Saturday 11 a.m.–3 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m.–3 p.m.
Satellite Bistro & Bar, 5900 Slaughter Lane, Ste. 400, 288-9994, www.satellitebistroandbar.com