It is a rare occasion that I have a nearly perfect meal, the Ritz Carlton Manzanita Restaurant in Lake Tahoe was the last time. But, it happened again this night at Ox in Portland. The place was recommended by a cook from Olympic Provision, who also recommended drinking beer at the ultimate mans cave, Deans Scene. I will now listen to all of this foodies recommendations and go wherever he suggests.
We arrived at Ox on Saturday night at 6:30, sans a reservation, but luckily got the last seat in the house, at the wood-fired grill bar. Perfect. I love to watch other people work.
Ox is an Argentine inspired restaurant that features an impressive wood burning grill. Oodles of grilled meat, fish and vegetable dishes call its menu home.
The seat at the grill was the perfect place for me, who is perpetually cold, belly up to the flames. Any closer and I would have gotten a sunburn. Or fried eyebrows.
Typically, the first thing I do at a new restaurant is scan the menu for any item that is unique, strange or a signature dish. The Spicy Braised Octopus & Beef Tripe was the first to catch my eye.
Of course, I couldn’t survive on beef stomach (aka: tripe), alone. So, the prize meal was padded with a grilled radicchio, corn and arugula salad, along with a sea scallop puttanesca. Both were flavorful and an excellent preface to the main dish. Blah, Blah, Blah. Bring on the Octopus and Tripe.
What is tripe you ask? Tripe is the edible stomach of a variety of farm animals. The Ox version is made from cow. Not sure if that makes it any tastier.
I have had octopus twice before, once in Las Vegas and once on a Caribbean cruise. Not a fan either time. Tripe, on the other hand, I remember my Italian grandmother cooking on several special occasions and me refusing to eat it. This was before my obsession with trying unique foods. Besides I heard it was chewy. I don’t like rubbery food.
The spicy braised octopus and tripe at Ox was almost melt in your mouth soft and the smoky red sauce masked any fishiness of the octopus.
Does tender and tripe belong in the same sentence? At Ox it does.
They had absinthe too. The same hallucinogenic liquor that I missed out on in Spain, but drank at a Savannah Speakeasy. Sounds like a great way to wash down the tripe on my taste buds.
Remnants of my meal lasted for the rest of the evening, all I had to do was take a whiff of my smoke filled hair, which I did on several occasions.
Have you eaten tripe or octopus before?