Flavor infusion

Satay Bistro, a father and son operation, open for business

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JEROME A. POLLOS/Press Robbie Elder highlights the window built into the floor that provides a view into the wine cellar and private dining area of the Coeur d'Alene restaurant, Satay, he operates with his father Rob Elder.

COEUR d'ALENE - The goal is to leave no room for doubt.

Not a hint of flavor, or a taste, but dishes at the recently-opened Satay Bistro on Fourth Street should hit the taste buds like a hammer.

The gorgonzola burger should "ooze" with cheese, the stuffed chicken is just that, stuffed, and to the brim. The bistro's specialty is American fusion food, which means Northwest staples are packed with infused flavors and sauces.

Not a splash or dash, more like a punch.

"It's not going to beat around the bush," said Robbie Elder, partnering with his father, Rob, in the new business inside the quirky building that previously housed the well-known watering hole, Chelsea's, at 2501 Fourth St. "You're going to instantly taste it."

The upper-end bistro had its soft opening last week, but is ready to get word out it's open for business. Decorative signs are planned for outside the front of the store to alert passersby, but inside, the quaint, tastefully decorated and dimly-lighted restaurant, lunch and dinner is already dished up daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

From satay - or fresh kabobs - to steaks, lamb, seafood dishes, burgers and homemade pastas, the key ingredient is infused flavors. Wines are also a specialty. In the basement of the restaurant is a wine cellar where the 77 different varieties of wines chill. The kicker, the cellar has room for a large table for private parties. Don't worry, guests will be given a jacket if they want to hang out where the wine cools.

"We were excited about the uniqueness and ambiance of the building," said Rob Elder, who runs Satay catering company and wanted to gear the restaurant with the same name toward finer culinary tastes in a style fitting restaurant rich cities Portland and Seattle. "Coeur d'Alene is awesome for that cool little restaurant scene, and we're just hoping to add to that."

The decor theme fits an upper-end wine cellar scene, but plenty of dishes cost between $10 and $20. The main dining room is a hexagon shape with wooden tables, chairs and few large booths. The antique, spiral staircase winding down to the wine cellar adds to the ambiance by itself.

Speaking of big city flair, the restaurant serves up Saketinis, which are martinis mixed with Sake, a popular drink on the East Coast.

A couple of televisions are in the area by the bar, and between the bar, outside patio and main area, 100 people can dine. A team of 45 employees, including executive chef Anthony Buttice, a graduate of Scottsdale Culinary Institute in Scottsdale, Ariz., operate the business.

Rob Elder, who used to own the Hot Rod Cafe in Post Falls before it closed, said the best part of the new venture is the opportunity to partner with his son.

"I'm excited about this one, this one is going to be fun," he said. "It's every father's dream to have a son he can work with."

Sunday it opens at 10 a.m. for brunch.

JEROME A. POLLOS/Press An order of Satay's lobster won tons and a customer's sandwich are readied for waiters during the lunch rush Thursday.

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