A mixed grill

Echo & Rig

The jumbo tiger prawns at Echo & Rig are every inch of seafood perfection.

The jumbo tiger prawns at Echo & Rig are every inch of seafood perfection.

photo by stephanie stiavetti

Good for: a drink before a game, with a great appetizer
Notable dishes: bone marrow carne asada, portobello fries
Steakhouse, downtown

Echo & Rig

500 J St.
Sacramento, CA 95814

(916) 619-8939

Just steps from Golden 1 Arena, on the ground floor of DOCO’s Sawyer Hotel, the famous Las Vegas steakhouse Echo & Rig recently opened its newest location. Showgoers and Kings’ fans can’t beat the location; the bar opens right onto the quad, perfect for a quick drink before a game or concert. The bar selection is solid, while the food menu is expansive almost to the point of overwhelming. Diners’ eyes might dart here and there, trying to figure out why there are three separate meat sections and two separate seafood sections. Vegetarians and pescatarians are well cared for, with satisfying options that diverge gracefully from the kitchen’s obvious carnivorous priorities.

On one visit, I ordered the bavette steak ($28), a sirloin-flap cut popular in France. The steak was perfectly cooked, but the sauce, a lemon chimichurri, fell flat. We had expected a bright green Argentinian sauce made of fresh herbs, but what arrived looked like a thin vinaigrette with a few green bits floating in it. We then asked for the “red wine demi” sauce, which tasted of neither red wine nor demi-glace, but more like canned minestrone soup. Our appetizers, however, were lovely. The Brussels sprouts ($9) were bright and fresh, while the portobello fries ($11) were rich, satisfying and the talk of the table.

On another visit we were seated quickly for our 5:30 p.m. reservation, but our server was nowhere in sight. He eventually meandered up to the table looking quite … stoned. His spacey responses initially gave us a giggle, but he left us playing that game we all know and hate—server charades, where you’re forced to gesticulate at passing staff whenever you need something.

At one point we looked around and there were zero waitstaff on the floor. A bartender explained that everyone was in the nightly kitchen meeting. At 6 p.m., in the middle of dinner service? Really? Our apps arrived, and we were smitten with the bone marrow carne asada ($11), which made me want to lick the drippings off the plate. The spicy cauliflower with chili arbol was also a winner, and we marveled over how perfectly browned the cauliflower was, even deep into its nooks and crannies.

When our server finally reappeared, in slow motion, I asked if I could order the grits with my Spencer steak ($31) instead of the potato chips it comes with. Our server balked, saying, “the chips will give you the best dining experience and the chef won’t like that.” He relented after a bit of side-eye. What arrived shortly after was the most oddly plated steak dish I’ve ever gotten, with everything plopped flatly on the plate. The grits were incredible—rich, creamy and cheesy—but my medium-rare steak was overcooked on the surface and still raw in the middle. (Like, slap a Band-Aid on it and send it back out to pasture.) My dining companion had ordered the jumbo tiger prawns ($27), which were every inch of seafood perfection, but her plate only came with one-and-a-half prawns. That’s $18 per prawn.

My final thoughts on Echo & Rig: It’s a fun, stylish place to eat, but the quality of the meat dishes is strained, considering the price point. Ironically, the best things on the menu are the seafood and vegetarian options. So vegetarians, welcome to your new favorite steakhouse.