I first met chef-owner Greg Denton at a Grains-of-Discovery event in New York City where he and his wife Gabrielle Quinonez Denton offered creative uses of the ancient grain amaranth — envision ricotta “Amarancini” with spicy octopus. That sparked my reservation at their Argentine-inspired restaurant in Portland (OR).
Ox takes no reservations (except for large parties), so plan to wait at their bar next door. Their dirty martini – Grandma Agnes— uses pickles in lieu of olives. Interesting, nothing special.
The fried empanada, a flaky pastry stuffed with grilled corn, poblano peppers and cheeses (Gruyère & Fontina) could be a light meal in itself. And a bargain ($5).
I liked how the refreshingly fresh mint aïoli livened the braised beef tripe and octopus. Wished it contained more octopus, less tripe ($12). Sadly, we each had only one bite of the cephalopod mollusk.
Not as much taste with the endive & arugula salad with a Dijon vinaigrette ($10). My favorite side was the roasted cauliflower cooked and served simply. I found the grilled escarole, summer squash & white beans, and tomato ($13) to be over the top in richness. To the doggy bag it went! The sautéed mushrooms with foie gras, sweet onions and wilted spinach ($13) was an interesting melange of flavors. I’d recommend that.
Ox’s portions are gargantuan. We didn’t even finish half of what we ordered. What we took home fed a complete meal the following night and with still more left.
Even stuffed to having to loosen a button, who can resist a chocolate dessert? The ($8) dense dark chocolate cake spread with malted milk chocolate mousse crème anglaise worked, the Malbec marshmallow didn’t. Still worth it.
2225 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
Portland, OR 97212