Greg Denton and his wife, Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton, met in a kitchen and earned their culinary chops cooking in restaurants from Napa Valley to Maui, Hawaii, before opening their first restaurant in Portland, Oregon.
Ox, their highly acclaimed collaboration that features wood-fired grilled dishes in the tradition of Argentina with Spanish, French, and Italian influences, was named in honor of the animal that pulls the plough, tills the soil, and replenishes the land’s ability to produce fruits, vegetables, and grains.
“An ox is a mature, hard-working animal and neither I nor my wife is a beginner,” says Greg. “The name Ox pays homage to the whole process of putting food on your table.”
With a menu that boasts a wide variety of grilled meats, many customers are surprised to find the restaurant’s ambience and menu is a balance of masculine and feminine influences.
“So many of our guests come in with the idea that we are a steakhouse and then are shocked to find out that neither the menu nor the ambience is masculine,” says Gabrielle. “We are as much known for our fish and vegetarian dishes as we are for our steak.”
“People pick up on the feminine and masculine balance that we have in our dishes,” adds Greg. “Everything is well thought out.”
By necessity, that balance extends to sharing the many responsibilities that come with opening a restaurant, where it’s not uncommon to work 80 hours a week.
“We pretty much both do everything,” says Gabrielle, “but usually I might be the one who executes the recipes and then I pass it back to Greg and he decides on the plating.”
Before a dish is put on the menu both chefs must agree. “We understand how both our paletes work and we don’t put anything on the menu that we don’t agree on,” says Greg.
Best-selling menu items include Asado Argentino for two, which is comprised of grilled short rib, house chorizo and Morcilla sausages, skirt steak, sweetbreads, fried potatoes, and green salad. There is also cocoa-braised lamb shoulder with sautéed spinach, chickpeas, Shiitake mushrooms, and wine-poached prune. Roasted sea scallops are served with lentils in bacon sherry cream, Morels, English peas, turnip, and Dungeness Crab. And another favorite is sautéed snap peas and sweet onion, carrots, Chevre, pistachio, wild fennel frond, and Umbrian truffle.