Eating in New Orleans is one of my favorite annual trips. After all, in New Orleans they know how to fry food like nobody’s business. Po boys, beignets, gumbo….what’s not to like?!?! And, now Angelenos don’t have to travel across the country to enjoy these dishes because Preux & Proper is here.
Located in Downtown LA, wedged between Spring and Main Streets, you might even think for a moment that you are in New Orleans. With second story windows lining the narrow, two story brick building, you can just imagine people throwing down beads. If it wasn’t so quiet in this part of town and the patrons were not wearing so many articles of clothing, you’d be fooled.
As I entered the restaurant, I passed the ground floor bar (Preux) with slushy machines. But, we didn’t stop here until we were on the way out.
Upstairs (Proper) there is another full bar (sans slushy machines) and a full dining room. The drink menu consists of traditional New Orleans cocktails (French 75, Pimm’s Cup, Vieux Carre and Sazerac) as well as variations on other classics (The West Side, Blackberry Honey Sour, Lemon Smash, Category 6). As we were a large group, we shared a Lemon Smash in a punch bowl and then ordered individual cocktails.
If you can tear yourself away from the cocktails, the wine list is a creative selection of international wines from California, Italy, France, Spain and Washington. But, on this outing, we stuck with cocktails. Once the table was filled with drinks, it was time to get down to the food.
Like most good meals, we started with fresh oysters on the half shell. The oysters for the night were Fanny Bay from British Columbia.
As we finished the oysters, the Smoked Shimp Beignets arrived. Whether sweet or savory, how can you not love those little fried fritters? And, the smokiness of the shrimp balanced well with the tart preserved lemon and tartar sauce ($10).
Instead of a traditional muffuletta loaf which is split and covered with layers of marinated olive salad, mortadella, salami, mozzarella, ham, and provolone, the Muffaletta Board is a deconstructed version. Filled with cured meats, cheese, olives, fig jam and grilled bread, the Muffaletta Board is a great option for sharing ($16).
As we were a large table, the Cajun Corn Nuts ($4) and Pickles ($4) are great sides to share as well. Well, I would say to share but I think I might have eaten all of the corn nuts. They are addictive.
Someone else in the group ordered the Crispy Frog Legs, served with chilies, sauce picante and coriander seeds ($12). While I have managed to never try frog legs before, I did on this occasion and they were very good, very crispy on the outside and delicate on the inside.
The majority of the menu is under “shared plates” so we kept ordering.
The Steam Pot with house-made andouille, crab, shrimp, corn, potato and saffron court bouillon is a flavorful dish and the soft bread quickly absorbs the broth.
The Grilled Beef Short Ribs is one of my favorite dishes. The tender meat has an abita (beer) marinade and sits on top of cajun kimchi, adding a little Asian flair ($14).
The Wood Roasted Chicken is served with gumbo fried rice, sautéed greens and hot sauce ($18). While chicken may not be the most exciting thing to order in a restaurant, this chicken is very flavorful and the gumbo fried rice was so tasty that we ordered an extra side of it. The gumbo fried rice was another fun little play with an Asian flair mixing fried rice with okra.
Of course, we could not forget the Po’Boys – a Fried Oyster Po’Boy with cornmeal, arugula, tartar sauce and tomato ($13) and a Lobster Po’Boy with avocado, remoulade, lettuce and hot sauce ($18). I am partial to the fried oyster po’boy because I loved the crispy cornmeal batter.
When it was time for dessert, we decided to order all four choices. Again, we were six people and the portion sizes were also not overwhelming.
I absolutely loved the Salted Caramel Popcorn ($5). Just slightly sweet and slightly salty, this is a perfect snack food that I could eat all the time, not just for dessert.
The Banana Bread Pudding with brown sugar, spiced rum, vanilla ice cream ($7) – a mixture of two favorite desserts, banana bread and bread pudding, it is dense and rich.
Flourless Chocolate Cake with chantilly cream and cayenne ($7) – It’s hard not to like flourless chocolate cake, especially when it is chocolaty and moist.
Pecan Pie with Jameson ice cream ($7) – I am not normally a pecan pie person as I find it too sweet but this one changed my mind. It is not overly sweet and was more nutty with the rum ice cream as a nice pairing.
As our meal came to an end, we couldn’t leave without the Slushies. With six flavors – Irish Coffee, Call a Cab (watermelon), Rocket Fuel (like Sunkist), Pina Colada (coconut moonshine), Mint Julep, and Strawberry Margarita – the Irish Coffee was my favorite. Or you can mix up a few flavors to create your own. Just watch out for that brain freeze!
Preux & Proper
840 S. Spring St., Downtown, 213-896-0090