The heat is on. Ox, the hotly anticipated Argentine grill-inspired restaurant from Metrovino alums Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton, will kick off its official series of preview dinners beginning tonight — after installing the spot's focal point, the custom grill, just this weekend. The 40-seat spot, in NE MLK's former Echo space, features exposed brick walls, light wood floors, and dark-brown tables and banquettes, with a wall of mirrors reflecting overhead light and making the space seem twice as large. (In the above photos, the space is set up to serve a family-style preview to Portland Food Adventures diners; its normal configuration will feature the usual two- and four-tops.) Two bar spaces provide additional seating — six stools will occupy the cocktail bar, with another four or five at the chef's counter — and a back patio offers extra seats in pleasant weather.
As previously reported, Ox's menu derives inspiration from Argentine cuisine, which flaunts influences from South America, France, and Italy — "but of course, we live in Portland, so we have to make it a little weird," Denton says. In addition to grilled items like halibut (served on the bone, with charred skin), short rib, and skirt steak, expect a meat-laden asado plate (also featuring grilled sweetbreads and house-made blood sausage and chorizo, a cross between an Italian fennel sausage and bratwurst, but with more spice). Veggie sides include grilled asparagus (with a sesame salsa verde) and radicchio (with lentils and blue cheese), and the Dentons aim for five or six raw fish preparations each evening, ranging from salmon tartare to a sea urchin "bruschetta" with avocado and shiso leaf.
Departure alum Jamal Hassan manages the bar program, highlighting six wines and five beers on tap. The 10-item cocktail menu shows South American and European influences, with ingredients like pisco, mescal, and fernet (the "Devil in a New Dress" features juiced red peppers, tequila, and a mezcal mist to bring out the sweetness in the grilled dishes, Hassan says). A nearly 70-bottle wine list, meanwhile, is heavy on French wines, with South American, Spanish, and Portuguese bottles featured, while the beer list includes a 25-ounce bottle of Damm Estrella InEdit, the beer created by Ferran Adria and the staff of El Bulli.
In addition to the Dentons' first solo restaurant, Ox also represents the latest opening by local restaurant empire ChefStable. After a series of preview dinners (from April 18 to 21), the spot officially opens to the public on Tuesday, April 24. Hours of operation: Tuesday through Saturday, 5pm-close.
· Ox [Official site]
· All Previous Ox Coverage [Eater PDX]
· All Previous Greg Denton Coverage [Eater PDX]