Chef Justin Yu’s reinvention of the former Oxheart space is a more casual bistro-style restaurant with the same inventive twist on local ingredients that brought him fame, like in his steamed Gulf oysters with turnip purée and “Texas tarragon” (a regional herb). The wine list separates classic from adventurous wines, with a focus on sparklers.
From The Sommelier: “As the wine world continues to evolve, we can’t help but notice how polarized it’s become. We’re really excited by the discourse between classic wines—and the institutions that study them—and the growing natural wine movement. At times that discourse can look a lot like an angry shouting match, but we see that vacuum of a middle ground as our opportunity to step in and apply lessons we’ve learned from one side to the other. We really believe the future of wine is the seamless integration of the best of both worlds.” —Justin Vann, Theodore Rex
Dish We Loved: French beans and onions stewed in white wine and basil, corn pudding and egg emulsion, cumin
Beverage Director Justin Vann and Chef/Owner Justin Yu
What’s your process in terms of working together on the menu and wine list?
Vann: We both know what we like, and we both know what works, but the truth is that on a personal level, we’re bickering constantly. And that bickering produces some very productive results.
Yu: Truth be told, he’s my best friend, so the bickering is part of it. We have very different taste as far as wine goes, but I think the way wine goes with food, we have a very similar palate… I never really had a house palate until I started working with J. Vann, and I think that the house palate kind of blends over to the food.
You guys have a really extensive sparkling list that’s divided by style. Do you see that as an educational feature?
Yu: It’s kind of like us being able to point out the farms and why something is different and more tasty, as an educational point, and as a point of reference for the guests.
Vann: It’s all about making people feel more comfortable with the list. We don’t try to overtly educate people.
Do you have any favorite dishes and pairings that you keep coming back to?
Yu: Our classic dish at T-Rex, because we have such a great relationship with the farm, is the tomato toast, which sounds very simple but has a lot of different layers to it. Personally, I’m a fan of the Clos de Beaune Tiburon, which it pains me to say, because he brings it on the menu so often.
Vann: The tomato toast is really good. I do think the Teutonic rosé goes with it really well…I live mostly in a wine first, food second sort of thing. I’m anxiously waiting for the Invinotae wines to come back out this year, and then I’m just going to pair that with the richer stuff on the menu, like the Carolina gold rice.