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Sautee- Chandler, AZ

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Recently had quite the disappointing experience at the newest outpost of Sautee Urban Bistro in South Chandler, at Alma School and Chandler Heights Rd, so disappointing that I was prompted to write my very first review here:)

Last Wednesday evening, my fiancé and I wanted to enjoy some wine and a light dinner outdoors in the lovely fall temps and so decided to check out this massive stucco-ed structure down the block from us that has been sporting Now Open signs for a month or so.

After walking through the lobby and scoping out the 95% empty yet extravagantly lit and ornately decorated (a la Wynn) dining room, we made our way to the patio, which was pretty full, and chose two cushioned lounger type seats. Nice touch, very comfy. The patio features a very cool gas fireplace/light fixture thing that is about 8 feet long and 10 feet high. It's visible from the street, and is what cinched our decision to dine there. In hindsight, I should've known anyplace that includes "Urban Bistro" in its name is a little suspect, but this fire deal looked pretty darn cool from the corner. Up close, it certainly was gorgeous, with glass beads in the base, and a custom iron hood, but while pretty, there was a design flaw; in order to keep it lit during the evening's light winds, one of the waiters had to keep coming by and clicking the remote control to re-light it, which made the whole area smell like gas. At this point, it was a minor detail, as the fire felt good in the night air, and was attractive to look at while reclining in our loungers. I definitely focused on looking at the fire, in part because in the other direction was the parking lot and a very bright parking lot light somehow aimed right at eye level. Again, minor detail.

Upon being seated we were promptly greeted by our waiter, a clean cut younger than usual Banana Republic type (like maybe when he grows up he'll work at Postino), who took our drink order, which was 2 glasses of Cabernet (each about $8) and 2 waters. The wine list was mostly standard second shelf supermarket wines, about 4 or 5 choices in each major varietal, with ok prices. When the drinks came out the water was terrible- worse than tap, and undrinkable. We asked for new ones, with lemon, but they were just as bad so we stuck to the wine. Oh well. The menu ran contrary to our night’s plan, not really suited to light noshing - only a few appetizers and a lot of entrees, mostly in the $20-$25 range. From the slim pickin's we chose the Blackened Chicken Quesadilla ($8.25) and the Shrimp Satay ($8.95) to start with and then planned to split an entrée or salad, so held onto a menu to decide a little later.

While we sat back and sipped our wine, I guess the fire lost a little of its engrossing power and we began to notice the large table at the end of the patio. Notice might not be a strong enough word. Geez, these ladies were boozin' it up like it was 2-for-1 strawberry marg night at Applebee’s. Usually I'm not one to judge (because I’m the one being judged), but given the patio layout, and maybe the florescent light and yucky water, it got to me. I admit there's probably not a lot a restaurant can do about this kind of thing, but it affected my experience. Luckily, the food came shortly, and the presentation was nice enough – they definitely made an effort to artistically stack and drizzle. The shrimp skewers had a lot of shrimp – I believe it was 6 per skewer and 3 total skewers – but not a ton of flavor. They had a grilled taste, yet were rubbery, and not fresh tasting. If paired with a good sauce, they would’ve been fine but they came atop a tangerine sauce which was possibly the weirdest thing I’ve ever eaten. It just tasted strange- like a kid’s popsicle almost – maybe they used fake tangerine flavor, or reduced the sauce too much?? It was a little spicy, but the spice didn’t compliment the tangerine, and the tangerine definitely didn’t compliment the shrimp. Our other appetizer, the quesadilla, was at least filling, with a good enough mixture of roasted veggies and cheese – smoked gouda the menu said, but smushed in a tortilla with salsa I couldn’t taste it specifically. The kicker was the sauce again. Drizzled over the top was what the menu listed as a bourbon cream sauce, and again it was just odd. The bourbon and cream did not blend together well and in order to finish the dish we ended up just scraping it off.

Midway through this first course we were ready for more drinks and to place our entrée order, but the waiters went MIA for 20 minutes and by the time ours returned to check in we were so turned off by the strange sauces and water and lighting and gas smell and hooting soccer moms that we just asked for the bill. Though it was obvious we cut our visit short, the waiter didn’t ask what was wrong, or make any attempt to apologize for or at least comment on the gas smell or the loud people, and instead just plopped down the check. So that was it. I would’ve put up with a lot from this place given it’s proximity to my house, and the overall patio atmosphere. Honestly, if it was a TGI Friday’s plus an adequate wine list, I probably would be there 3 times a month because I’m that desperate for a neighborhood joint, but man, oh man, this was our first and last visit for sure.

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  1. I think any place that calls itself an "urban bistro" is likely to be neither, especially when it's located in the outer reaches of suburbia.

    1. I went there for lunch this week, service was just fine but the food was only mediocre and way overpriced.