Every noteworthy resort features a really good restaurant, one worth traveling to for memorable meals. That dining room is ECHO at the King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort, St. Simons Island, GA. ECHO, which debuted March 2014 as part of a multimillion dollar resort renovation, serves what chef de cuisine James Flack calls “Southern coastal with a twist.”
Flack comes by his love of Southern coastal cooking naturally. He grew up on Jekyll Island and later worked at the 5- star Georgian Room at The Cloister on Sea Island. Both destinations, along with St. Simons Island, are part of Georgia’s Golden Isles.
Flack knows what makes Georgia wild shrimp special. “There’s a sweetness, a texture, and a flavor that comes from the sweetgrass marsh. It’s the smell you get on a boat, the smell you get here right before it rains. It’s an earthy shrimp that’s not like Gulf shrimp,” says Flack.
For his version of the local staple shrimp and grits, Flack fries the shrimp separately to bring out the flavor instead of boiling it with the other ingredients. Such simple, but effective changes make Flack’s fare interesting.
“What you generally see on the island at other restaurants are fried shrimp, fried oysters fried crab cakes,” says Flack. “Flack does that by pre-searing the tuna, combining it with avocado and wasabi mayonnaise and garnishing the plate with apples and radishes. That’s not something you’d find scooped on top of iceberg lettuce or stuffed into a foot-long roll.
Flack creates a tasty Southern club sandwich by replacing ham with prosciutto, tomatoes with fried green tomatoes, ordinary mayonnaise with a spicy spread, and onion slices with pickled red onions. Such substitutions elevate the plebian lunch plate to a tasty midday meal.
ECHO is also St. Simons’ only oceanfront dining. The recent renovation enlarged the room, expanding the sea views. Although the new bar offers comfortable seating that extends into the lobby’s sitting area, the restaurant’s décor isn’t so much modern minimalist as merely meh.
Flack’s a chef to watch and another reason to visit the King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort.