Friday, July 27, 2012

Restaurant Reviews | Ox and Salt & Straw

While Portland may have it's fill of convenient food carts and budget eats to satisfy my appetite, every once in a while I indulge in treating my taste buds to the up and coming restaurants that seem to be capturing all of the buzz. Luckily I have my foodie friend Phil to guide me through the difficult decisions of where to go and what to eat. He not only follows restaurants and trends in PDX, but he follows the Chefs and what they specialize in! Even more impressive is that he follows these chefs locally and domestically, knowing what crazes are hitting the nation in both up scale restaurants and street eats. He's quite the friend to have!

Clipboard Menu @ Ox

We met on a Tuesday afternoon just as the dinner hour approached. When I walked into Ox I was greeted by smiling staff, the aroma of wood-fire grill perfection and a clean ambiance that clued me in that I was somewhere special.

Ox is Argentine-inspired Portland food, meaning that you get the tastes and staples of typical Argentine cuisine yet prepared carefully and thoughtfully to cater to the taste and showcase the chef's impeccable talent.

I'm not too adventurous when I am eating alone, but take a look at Eat & Drink and you can see where Phil's recommendations really set the night!

Eat & Drink:

Malbec, Ben Marco, Mendoza, AR '10 ($40 bottle)

Fresh clam chowder, smoked marrow bone, spring onions, jalapeƱo ($12)

8oz Beef Skirt Steak ($19)

4oz Maitake mushroom, smoked sea salt ($12)

House Chorizo ($9)

Whole roasted fava beans in the pod, shaved radish, hazelnut romesco ($7)

My favorite was the skirt steak, clam chowder and fava beans (championed by the romesco!). I could eat here on a 'budget' if necessary, but had a great time sampling some of the key delicacies from the menu.

Know Before You Go:

  • Leave your frugal barriers behind - here the price means quality.

  • No reservations for parties under six. Get there early or invite a few others out to join! (more people = more sharing!)

  • Address: 2225 N.E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd

  • Hours: Dinner, Tuesday-Sunday 5pm - close

  • Be ready to TRY SOMETHING NEW!

  • They have their own parking lot - don't be caught searching for parking on the streets like I did.

Whoa Whoa. We aren't done here. There's still dessert!

Both Phil and I had never been to the Ice Cream shop that was placed in Oprah's April 2012 Magazine as their new favorite ice cream for summer!

I'd been dying to try it, but each time I went to Alberta Street the line was 20 people out the door. This Tuesday night was more of the same with at least 10 patient customers inside and 15 wide-eyed hopefuls soaking in the sun. I couldn't decide which was worse more agonizing; Standing outside watching others devour and rave over the flavor they'd chosen, or stepping inside to experience the freshly churned ice cream and waffle cones filling my nostrils.

Once inside I realized that a big reason that the line is a practice of patience is that the employees are happy to let you sample as many flavors as you wish! I tried at least four, and ended up with the best choice of the 4 and arguably of all 14 on rotation! Nothing out of the ordinary in the Almond Brittle with Salted Ganache, but that's what set it above the rest - it made my mouth water and my inner child smile.

I was most impressed that there were children in line who were just as patient as the adults. It's that good.

Salt & Straw has put a spell over PDX. Don't let the line intimidate you, it's worth your time!

<3 JE

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