Ox | Portland
Posted on April 16, 2013 by Tim Tolbert
The sheer amount of excellent dining options in Portland can be overwhelming if you attempt to spend too much time researching choices. After a dizzying lunch earlier in the day wandering an entire city block of Food Carts and Trucks (over 85 in total); I had decided to dedicate only 10 minutes in glancing through my usual sources to choose a dinner spot (Chef’s Feed, Yelp and the local city glossy monthly magazine on hand in the hotel room).
I decided on Ox, a newish Portland Restaurant in the Kerns neighborhood across the river from downtown focused on authentic Argentinian Parrilla style open fire grilled meats with a french flair towards presentations and accompaniments. Upon entering the restaurant the small island kitchen was comprised almost entirely of a very large wood fired roasting chamber with a heavy duty cantilevered grill in place. Despite the state of the art induction vent above the grill I managed to catch some delicious scents of grilled beef wafting through the restaurant.
As seems to be the current style in Portland and elsewhere, the space was previously some type of warehouse and had been tastefully refurbished with careful restoration of the original wood floors with the raw red brick walls left largely unadorned. Interesting lighting lended a sophisticated yet rustic feel to the room.
Seated at the bar I noticed a fine selection of bourbons, other spirits and a short but well curated selection of local draft beers. The wine list featured many French, Argentinian and Oregonian selections. I settled on a glass of Malbec and proceeded to order.
An espresso cup of delicious squash soup with a float of smoked cilantro oil was presented first along with the restaurant’s signature house made Chimichurri and some quality crusty bread. I settled on their clam chowder served with sliced jalapeno and wood roasted bone marrow to be followed by Skirt Steak from the grill.
Waiting for the appetizer to arrive I joined four of my previously unknown dining partners at the bar with a celebratory vodka mule cocktail; apparently another house specialty. Viva la Vida!
The clam chowder was one of the best chowders I have ever had. The broth had a perfect consistency and an intense smoked flavor emanated through the soup especially after I scooped out the roasted marrow from the large bone and plopped it right into the bowl as instructed by the waiter. This was a decadent way to formally commence the meal at Ox and highly recommended if you make it there anytime soon.
The sea salt flecked skirt steak was a perfect medium rare and about an 8 ounce portion which I found to be perfect. The accompanying Chimichurri provided an amazing flavor enhancement to the wood scented beef. Something to remember-a patron at the bar ordered the fire roasted Halibut collar and it looked amazing.
Dessert consisted of a triple chocolate cake with homemade Malbec marshmallows. The intensity of the two different types of chocolate in the cake was super rich yet not too sweet. Ox is a fine restaurant and offered one of the more unique dining experiences I’ve experienced in the last several years.