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Hot Rod to Hot Spot 

Restauranteur Rob Elder is still full of surprises with Satay Bistro

click to enlarge Satay’s red chili sea scallops.| - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Satay’s red chili sea scallops.|

Coeur d’Alene’s new Satay Bistro is a fine dining experience located, improbably, between Taco Bell and the Long Ear music store, where Fourth Street crosses Interstate 90.

With its chic decor, 70-some bottles of wine and upscale fusion menu ($23 average entree), Satay’s modern, casual elegance would fit in in downtown Coeur d’Alene, Spokane or even larger cities.

“I was really wanting that downtown Seattle/Portland, old-style cool building, but parking is so, so critical,” explains owner Rob Elder, who left his first restaurant, Crickets Restaurant and Oyster Bar, in 1998 to launch Hot Rod Cafe in Post Falls.

Filling 8,000 square feet with vintage signs, memorabilia and actual cars, including the rotating rooftop-mounted ’33 Ford coupe, Hot Rod was typical of Elder’s festive, theme-based approach. It closed in 2011 and its contents were sold at auction, but Elder continued with his Satay catering, a 25-year venture he’s tying more into the restaurant.

“The small, lower-overhead, unique venues … in the upper-level, casual dining scene that have targeted excellent food, service and have attracted the Baby Boomer demographic have been able to survive this downturn,” he says.

A seven-month, $300,000 remodel transformed the former Brycie’s Cheesesteaks (before that a popular blues bar) with dark, earth-toned and bronze walls, wrought iron fixtures and woven branch partitions strung with tiny lights.

Backlit onyx tiles along the bar cast an amber glow across diners sipping saketinis — beer and wine only here — or nibbling on trademark satays (meaning skewered, grilled meat) like filet beef with Shitake mushroom demiglace and Gorgonzola ($10). Our Red Chili Scallops ($10) were four hefty, tender mouthfuls alongside sweet-hot mango salsa.

Salads include strawberry walnut with goat cheese ($13) while pastas are scratch-made, like Seafood Abruzzi’s black fettuccine with prawns, scallops and red sauce ($25). Try five-spice Asian duck ($30), grilled, mint-marinated lamb with tahini saffron couscous ($35) or dry-aged New York 12-ounce strip ($50).

Satay also joins a select few restarants to offer upscale weekend brunch with treats like crème brulee French toast ($9) and an Ahi tartar eggs benedict ($11). 

Satay Bistro • 2501 Fourth St., Cda • Open Mon-Thu 11 am–10 pm, Fri-Sat 11 am-10 pm, Sun 10 am-10 pm • www.sataycatering.com • (208) 765-2555.

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