Imagine a room full of Portlanders, cocktails in hand, the grill behind them being worked to a flaming frenzy by Chefs (and husband and wife) Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton. Sweat pouring down their faces and the smells of burning wood and charring (animal) flesh teasing our noses and causing our palates to salivate like someone just broke the dam.
This was Portland Food Adventures on Tuesday night. From the outside it may have looked like your typical Portland scene. Folks milling about, sipping drinks and snacking on appetizers. Inside, was electric. Folks were shoulder to shoulder in this tiny restaurant. Custom made, cleverly mixed cocktails, crafted by the great Jamal Hassan (formally of Departure ) ,in hand. South American music thumping above our heads, and each one of us quivering with anticipation of what these two great chefs had up their sleeves. See, we aren’t just talking about two Portland chefs. We’re talking about Greg and Gabi Denton. Two (super huggable) Portland chefs who left the highly lauded Metrovino, in NW Portland’s Pearl District, to start their own restaurant from the ground up. And we’ve all been waiting for this moment. The moment when we could share their passion by breaking bread with them.
The concept of OX is simple. Home cooked Argentinian inspired food with a NW twist. Or as Greg shared with Eater PDX’s editor, Erin de Jesus, “but of course, we live in Portland, so we have to make it a little weird”. More like really really good. And we all knew it would be. This particular Portland Food Adventure series sold out in what felt like moments. Those of us of who live and breathe the food world have been talking about Greg and Gabi’s new venture since they announced their departure from Metrovino back in early December. And it all deliciously came together on Tuesday night during their first ever dinner. Heirloom hominy with baby spring fava beans that made me weak in the knees. Ever so delicate duck rillettes wrapped in a buckwheat crêpe and topped with a dollop of grilled rhubarb jam. Grilled asparagus that snapped crisply with each bite. Grilled sweetbreads, and, oh my, sea urchin bruschetta! And it goes on and on and on.
If you’re not familiar with Portland Food Adventures, it goes down like this: Sign up at portlandfoodadventures.com for an upcoming dinner. Pay $125. Eat a multi-course perfectly paired dinner at one of the city’s most sought restaurants, and go home with a full belly and a handful of gift certificates to some of the favorite haunts of the night’s chef(s). In this case, we get to explore the fare of Spints, Oven and Shaker, Olympic Provisions and Nuvrei. Doesn’t get much better than that.
OX officially opens on Tuesday, April 24. Go, eat, enjoy. You won’t be disappointed.
And be sure to hug Greg and Gabi while you’re there 🙂
Two of my favorite Portlanders, Heather and Robert Jones celebrating 13 years together
Asparagus Soup, Chantilly and citrus wood smoked salmon roe
Sea Urchin Bruschetta (gasp), Salmon tartare, Dungeness Crab Ceviche
A little unsure about the sea urchin…it was delicious, by the way
Sunchoke, broccoli, black truffle and fontina empanada
Jamal pouring El Bulli’s Ferran Adrià’s Damm Estrella InEdit
La Incomparable Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton
Greg working the grill
Grilled asparagus, sesame salsa verde, radish. Alaskan halibut with skin and bone, toasted garlic, lemon, olive oil
Grilled radicchio, lentil-dijon vinaigrette, fourme d’ambert, saba
Greg and Gabi addressing the room amid much celebratory hooting and hollering
Greg slicing up some skirt steak. Fried potato, horseradish aioli, dill
Gabi whipped up a different dessert than what you see on the menu. Coconut sorbet with grilled pineapple
Chris Angelus presenting Greg and Gabi with their first two dollars