Southern Love at Preux & Proper

[title maintitle=”Falling For Preux & Proper” subtitle=”A Love Story That begins with the first sip”]

We all know how endearing good ole Southern charm can be, but it’s southern cooking that really takes the cake. Amidst the downtown Los Angeles culinary landscape, one can find just about anything but it’s the addition of Louisiana-inspired, Preux & Proper that has set a standard in a saturated market.

Fortunate to know P&P owner, Joshua Kopel, Baton Rouge born Louisianan (who happens to be a thriving entrepreneur, restaurateur, and environmentalist), I brought my friend, New Orleans Chef Ryan Rondeno in with me to do a tasting and hang with Josh to partake in the culinary creations of Chef Sammy Monsour at Preux & Proper. Per as is Josh’s style, the man was dressed to the nines in a gorgeous suit, vest and all, wearing the notorious smile that always makes a visit to his restaurants unforgettable. Josh is a visionary and after having had been invited to his other restaurant, Five O Four in Hollywood back in 2013, getting a look at the new venture (new to me), Preux & Proper, I can say that the restaurant and bar emanate details, thoughtfulness, joy, and of course a menu of food and beverages that are equally on par.

While I’d love to say we displayed restraint in ordering, we didn’t. Instead, Chef Ryan and I celebrated the cuisine curated on an extensive menu and delved into what would be the happiest progression of southern food I’ve had in some time. So, what did we order?

Well, we began with cocktails of course and then we went in, appetites first and each dish was worth its own review so may you find yourself licking your lips and heading to the Metro to get your own fill ASAP.

[title maintitle=”Part 1″ subtitle=”Drinks + Bites”]

P & P Old Fashioned

{110 proof made with a special P & P barrel of Maker’s Mark, cane sugar, bitters}

This is by far one of the tastiest versions of an Old Fashioned I’ve had. Their limited release barrel of Maker’s Mark is profoundly good with notes of caramel, oak, and orange rind that sit on the tongue like a perfect shotgun wedding. It’s surprising, complex, smooth, and a little too easy to suck down making it a new ritualistic “must drink” for me.

Jazz Men

{serrano infused tequila, house jasmine liqueur, cilantro, lime, coriander salt}

Just say the name out loud a few times and you’ll find yourself smiling. Once you sip this beautifully presented cocktail (the rim is perfection and the finesse to follow is the same), you’ll find yourself immersed in a rather romantic version of a spicy seductress. It’s that good.

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Charred Octopus

{crispy weiser fingerlinfs, anchovy remoulade, mustard frills, blood orange mojo}

Oh eight-legged sea creature, you are tasty when done right and this octopus is done precise. The cook is ideal with the octopi soft and taut, easy to sink your teeth into. There is no rubbery attempt when biting in and the flavors are lovely. The blood orange mojo is the accent that sets this apart in my opinion and while its a subtle introduction of Cuban flavors, it only lends itself to the composition of this Southern take on a seafood classic.

Spicy Roasted Carrots

{golden beets, labneh kefir, greens, olive oil, crunchy jerk chick peas, okra leaf}

It seems carrots are making a comeback on the plate. Rather than having a basic, bland garlic rubbed/salt and pepper doused veggie, these spicy roasted carrots are bursting with adventurous layers of flavor. I love that they got crafty and added the labneh kefir and crunchy jerk chick peas for an extra punch of textural contrast.

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Roasted Japanese Eggplant

{shakshuka spice, walnut palings, feta, horseradish chimichurri}

Shakshuka is a vegetarian Mediterranean spice that takes cumin, salt, pepper, garlic, peppers, coriander, and more to create a powerful addition to any dish. Paired with Japanese eggplant however, it is a bonafide pop of something new. You’ll want to save your appetite for this one. It is rich and plentiful and especially good the following day as leftovers.

Braised Collards

{lady edison country ham, chino valley egg, house fermented fresno hot sauce}

Collard greens are a specific Southern side dish that, when eaten on New Year’s Day also brings good fortune. Aside from being good luck, these cabbage greens aren’t always prepared flawlessly. They tend to be overcooked but not the P&P greens. These are balanced, tender, wonderful bites of green goodness. As it arrives the poached egg is rested atop the greens, so when you rest your fork into it, the yolk oozes out onto it giving yet one more added layer of flavor and texture.

House Andouille Sausage

{anson mills sea island red peas, blackstrap molasses, marjoram, hours gorditas}

There are no other words to describe this than: hot damn! Andouille sausage is my favorite part of creole cuisine. The spice, the flavor, the complexity all wrapped into one juicy sausage? Well, theirs is sublime (we selfishly ordered 2!) and accompanied by those well cooked and seasoned red peas, it hit the spot.

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Thugs Passion

{la union mezcal, passionfruit, lime, aperol, sal de gusano}

Hats off to the beverage director because every cocktail lends itself to a story that unravels sip by sip as flavors seemingly defiant of one another blend in unison and idyllic flavor.

Voodoo Queen

{appleton state rum, falernum, jamaican jerk bitters, tiki bitters}

The name alone garnered my attention but once I rested my lips on the glass and got my first taste of this sultry decadence, it is a sexy ass cocktail to be certain. This is the kind of southern drink that dares you to imagine the sticky heat of the Louisiana air resting on your flesh yet somehow, off in the distance, exists an island filled with plentiful rum, wild flavors, and a damn good time. In other words, this one is too good which makes it dangerous … in all the right ways.

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Cast Iron Seafood Gumbo

{louisiana crawfish, tiger prawns, seasonal oysters, mussels, rice, tobacco leeks = made gluten free}

The gumbo is a hearty dish soaring with savory components that emphasize all of the incredibly fresh seafood. The willingness to make it gluten-free was an added bonus.

Fried Mississipi Catfish

{buttermilk marinade, cornmeal crust, house pickles, celery salt, red rémoulade}

Crusted on the outside, the celery salt and red rémoulade make this catfish a southern treat. The house pickles are a tasty addition.

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Strawberry Rhubarb Cornbread Cobbler

{lemon verbena, brown butter crumble, homemade frozen custard}

Cobbler is one of my favorite desserts but I rarely partake because finding a delectable one that surprises me is a rarity. Oh how that all changed with this strawberry rhubarb cornbread cobbler. Its like taking grandma’s cornbread and mixing it with old school flavors and a newfound twist. This was soul food in the sweetest way. Sweet, savory, crisp outer layers, mushy insides that make your tongue long for more. The lemon verbana adds a subtlety of herbaceous notes.

Pate e Choux Beignets

{bananas foster, dulce de leche}

Donuts are what I grew up with, so having the rare opportunity to binge on a few beignets? It appeals to the little kid within – a little kid with a deep appreciation for this battered, fried Louisana staple. Biting into a well cooked beignet is a little slice of true love.

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Strolling through downtown and coming upon Preux & Proper is a wonderful entry into a taste of life in the South. The décor, the ambiance, the smells of cajun spices and love that trickle out from the kitchen whether you’re down at the bar or upstairs dining in the restaurant, it’s a special place. Known for their Kentucky bourbons (which I can attest are phenomenal) and their 36-hour prime boneless beef rib, Preux & Proper is all heart.

Preux & Proper | 840 S. Spring St. | Los Angeles, CA 90015

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