One of the spring's most-anticipated openings, chefs Greg and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton's restaurant Ox, made its debut last week, officially rolling out its a la carte menu after several nights of preview dinners. Without further ado, here's a look at what the early diners are saying, in a newly resurrected Eater feature dubbed Good News/Bad News.
The Former Food Critic's News: As previously noted, former Oregonian food critic Michael C. Zusman tweeted his first impressions from a preview dinner, calling the tongue carpaccio with sweetbread croutons "one of my top 5 #pdx dishes this year." Also noted from that particular dinner: "Brick walls and gentle aroma of wood smoke give @oxpdx homely, comfortable feel." And looks like the Zus is already a regular, with this April 27 thought: "Had dinner @oxpdx once this week and still want to go back. It's a carnivore's dlight. Peevish vegans probably want to stay well clear." [@mczlaw]
The Religion-Evoking Hyperbolic News: One Yelper declares the spot a temple of meat worth worshipping: "If meat were a religion, OX would be the cathedral, the Ribeye would be Saint Peter and the Ribs would be the head dude...... The ribeye that I had was the most flavorful piece of meat I have ever had in my 40 years of existence." Though thanks to an "ORGASMIC" experience, the Tuscan kale salad would be worth the dalliance away from meat products. [Yelp]
The "No Schmooze, You Lose" News: Another Yelper traded some emails with co-owner Kurt Huffman (of ChefStable fame), after originally posting a review criticizing Huffman "spen[ding] a lot of time talking to customers — but only the ones whom he appeared to know and/or be friends with." After Huffman wrote the reviewer personally, a revision: "Kurt completely understood, and not only am I grateful for that, but I'm even MORE impressed with Ox and the people behind it." So — yay for personal service! [Yelp]
The "Shrug" News: A foodie at PortlandFood.org calls out a few dishes — including the chorizo, empanada, and calamari — as so-so, plain, and "totally boring," respectively, drawing the first (inevitable) comparison to Denton's work at Metrovino. "The food was competent, but maybe a bit predictable/unsurprising. Compared to the dinners I've had at Metrovino, this seemed less memorable." [PF.org]
The Second Metrovino Mention: While the meat gets all the glory, another PortlandFooder highlighted the spot's raw seafood preparations, which change daily: "Surprisingly good, given the restaurant's focus on grilled meats. Perhaps not so surprising given how adept chef Denton was with seafood at Metrovino. The highlight for me were the mussels, done poke style. Scallop 'salad' was also tasty. A recommended app for sharing." [PF.org]
The "Way Too Much Smoke" News: Another Yelper files a "meh" report, calling the asado Argentino "underwhelming" and pointing out a consistent wood-smoke aftertaste "(that I learned later seemed to be everywhere in this place including the salad!)... Every piece of meat had the distinctive flavor and smell of smoke (like the stuff you eat at a campfire) and by the time we left the place, so did our clothes and our hairs." Ultimately, the smoke was the overwhelming factor: "my fiancee wouldn't stop coughing and wiping her eyes that were watering so badly from the smoke. We rushed out of there." [Yelp]
· All Previous Ox Coverage [Eater PDX]