Red snapper, edamame puree, sous vide baby carrots, purple fingerling potatoes, squid ink emulsion, rosemary, chili, sesame glass. Photo by Breonca Trofort
The aqua tiled bar resembles the bottom of a swimming pool. I sip a local draft and take in a Freddy Mercury lookalike in mirrored shades that's painted on the wall. A richly hued, organic blueberry-pomegranate sangria complements the Key lime and tangerine palette of the room. If it weren't for the cocktails and words like "sunchoke," "cucumber air" and "butternut squash sous vide" written in pink on a chalkboard, I'd think I was in either a day-care center or a Fiesta dinnerware showroom in the Caribbean.
Dinette tables hold fresh flown uku, a Hawaiian deep-water snapper supplied by Honolulu Fish Co., instead of mid-century working-class meals like meatloaf and mashed potatoes. Oregon Hill brick masons, painters and students nosh on hotter-than-Hades voodoo shrimp bowls, cooled by hats of runny egg yolks and ginormous fish tacos. Placing dishes of the moment, such as Spanish mackerel with bergamot gastrique, in a hoi polloi background might seem incongruous, but like an artist colony in Cuba, it works with the neighborhood, rather than against it.
Seafood doesn't have to mean lobster bibs and drawn butter. Chef Trevor Knotts has swimmingly transformed the former Pescados China Street to EAT by pescados, taking down-market dining to new heights. Per customer feedback, the restaurant added main dishes in the teens, including house-made pastrami with pickled mustard seed, to shrink dinner tabs. Ever-present EAT branding, from the newspaper headline "EAT" on the menu to the EAT stickers on the salt and pepper mills, cements the idea that this is everyman's diner.
Besides dinner seven nights a week, there's a fun Sunday brunch. Pitchers of mimosas sit on every other table. Vegan and gluten-free dishes, such as the hearty quinoa cakes with crispy cauliflower, are clearly marked on the menu, making everyone feel as included as the lovers of fried chicken thighs and waffles already do.
EAT by pescados china street
626 China St., 644-3474 or eatoregonhill.com
Prices: Dinner $8 to $26; brunch $8 to $14.
Hours: 5 to 10 p.m. daily; Sunday brunch
10 a.m. to 2 p.m.