Andrew Tonry
Echo Restaurant
2225 NE MLK

When a new food crosses my path, especially a strange, exotic new seafood, I'm thrilled. No--better than thrilled. Ecstatic. I feel something like Darwin must have felt when discovering a new species of bird on the Galapagos Islands. Unlike Darwin, however, I eat my discovery. My latest find is a Hawaiian fish called escobar. Something like the buttery cousin of halibut, the fish is dense, moist, and rich, providing an utterly satisfying and delicious protein.

I mention escobar because the newest dining addition to MLK, the Echo Restaurant, serves an escobar kabob as one of their signature dishes. Plunked in meaty chunks onto metal spears, the Echo presents this fish smartly, grilled with a little marinade, befriending it with corn, red peppers, mushrooms, and a light herby couscous. The dish is delicious, light but filling, and perfect in the heat of summer.

The Echo's other dinner choices include: cheese ravioli in a creamy wine sauce, a flatiron steak, pork, and halibut. Unlike the thrilling escobar, the pork medallion entree was merely mediocre. The caramelized onion sauce was delicious with the rich mashed potatoes, but musky tasting with the pork, which could have been more tender.

Appetizers are nice and simple; the roasted oysters were great, served on the half shell in butter and garlic, and not overcooked. They're warm, and melt in your mouth like ice cream. The Echo also offers a cheese plate appetizer, always a tempting addition to a dinner menu. For more low maintenance dining, the restaurant graciously serves a little roundup of inexpensive sandwiches and salads, including a tasty pulled pork, a burger, and a Cobb salad made with salmon rather than chicken. Enjoy one of these easy dinners with a cocktail on the Echo's cool, alley-like urban patio, and consider yourself satisfied. Of note for late-nighters, the Echo is open until 11 pm Tuesday-Wednesday, Thursday until midnight, and weekends until 1 am.

Beyond dinner, the Echo's dessert menu is friendly, with crème brulée, strawberry rhubarb crisp, and the strawberry sponge pudding standing out as the most intriguing. I ordered the sponge pudding just because it sounded weird, and in the end I should've chosen the crisp. The pudding was topped with whipped cream, and had a varied texture throughout that went from spongy on the outside to runny on the inside. As my coworker noted, there's something disconcerting about eating something and not knowing what your next bite will be. The mixture tasted like a mis-cooked strawberry cheesecake, although I admit this was my first experience with sponge pudding.

Overall, the Echo is a little hit and miss, but like a Darwinian fish that evolves to sport bright colors that warn predators of its latent poison, they're keeping things interesting. And as Darwin discovered, evolution doesn't happen in a day.