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Justin Yu Could Debut Theodore Rex By the End of the Month

5 things to know about the Beard Award winner's plans for the former Oxheart space

justin yu

Just over five months after closing Oxheart, Justin Yu is preparing to open his new restaurant Theodore Rex by the end of August.

The chef dished on his plans for the casual, European-inspired new eatery in an interview with Eater’s Hillary Dixler. According to Yu, the restaurant will serve up a “more approachable” menu of a la carte dishes that borrow from the cuisines of France, Eastern Europe, and the Mediterranean. Up until now, Yu had divulged little more than Theodore Rex’s location and his inspiration for the restaurant’s name.

Ahead of its impending arrival, here’s everything you need to know about Theodore Rex.

Tasting menus, which were on offer at Oxheart, will not be an option.

“The idea is if you get one thing from every section, you’d be a happy camper,” said Yu. “But instead of us forcing that upon people in a tasting menu format, we’ll let you do whatever you want.” Alongside chef de cuisine Jason White, Yu also plans to add more meat to the menu at T-Rex, signaling yet another departure from his tenure at Oxheart.

Of course, some things will still be familiar.

Those differences aside, some facets of Oxheart will naturally make their way to Yu’s latest venture. According to the chef, fermentation and preservation will have a huge place on the menu, and some of Oxheart’s more simple dishes (stews, the famous mung bean crepe) could eventually end up on the Theodore Rex menu. The wine list will also be significantly larger than what was on offer at Oxheart, with a number of affordably-priced bottles.

The restaurant formerly known as Oxheart is getting a major makeover

In terms of revamping the former Oxheart space, Yu says that “pretty much everything” inside the future home of Theodore Rex is getting a facelift. “That’s what’s taking so long,” he says. “I didn’t think it would be fair for this restaurant if it looked like Oxheart because a lot of people wouldn’t be able to get away from the expectation of Oxheart’s food.” The restaurant’s iconic chef’s counter, which Yu listed for sale earlier this year, is no longer part of the interior.

Theodore Rex will feature many familiar faces from Oxheart

Alongside chef de cuisine Jason White and well-known sommelier Justin Vann serving as wine director, at least a few familiar faces will be making the transition. A former server will work under Vann as the restaurant’s sommelier, and his trusty dining room manager Diana will stick around too. “We had four cooks, and honestly I’m retaining all of them,” he says. “Two of them went over to Better Luck Tomorrow, and two are staying for Theodore Rex. Even our dishwasher is coming back.

Yu doesn’t have an expiration date in mind for Theodore Rex

When he shuttered Oxheart, Yu made it clear that it wasn’t meant to be a restaurant that was open for decades, but Theodore Rex will be different. “A place like Oxheart has a timeline on its life,” he says. “I’m hoping this one will be the kind of restaurant that stands the test of time a little bit more.

Yu is still tentative on when exactly Theodore Rex will open its doors, but the chef is hustling to open the restaurant as soon as possible, optimistically sometime around the end of August.

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