A year after opening, Preux & Proper in downtown LA is like a new restaurant. The decor is the same and the slushy machines on the ground floor are still there, but there is a new chef at the helm.
Sammy Monsour came to Preux & Proper in January 2016 but is also new to Los Angeles. Raised in Raleigh, North Carolina, he went to culinary school at The Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park in New York. He was working in Boston, learning from great chefs, and then took his art on the road, organizing pop-up events such as “Chuck Taylor’s Fried Chicken All Stars”, “The Future of Junk Food” and “Antibellum”. But now he has found his new home at Preux & Proper. He also brought his chef de cuisine, Steven Hacker, and sous chef, Paul Trevino who worked with him at Antibellum and kept almost all of the original staff of the restaurant.
While the restaurant was first opened with a New Orleans theme, Monsour calls his menu “soul food”. There is a mix of southern flavors (New Orleans, Texas, the Carolinas, Alabama) that work well together. Monsour is down-to-earth, charming and outgoing. But what shines the most is his passion for what he does. The food is focused on flavor and soul and is very very tasty!
We started with the Dungeness Crab Hushpuppies with bourbon barrel aged hot sauce, boil spice and poblano butter. These are like dense crab cakes and you will want to slather the poblano butter all over them for a creamy kick.
Chef Monsour recommended the Smoked Beef Heart Toast and while I was hesitant at first, I put my trust in him. And I am glad I did. The beef heart is brined for two weeks, then smoked for a day and then shaved thin over Rancho Gordo rojo beans, lemon and shaved trinity. It is tender and flavorful and anyone skeptical about eating beef heart will no longer be after this dish.
The decadently delicious Smoked Arctic Char Fillettes with Trout Caviar, Hoecake, Sour Cream and Chive is like an over-sized blini.
The spiciness of the Jazz Men, made with serrano infused tequila, house jasmine liqueur, blue agave, cilantro and lime, cut through the richness of the food.
Another dish recommended by Chef was the House Andouille with gorditas, marjoram and Sea Island red peas was full of flavor and another winner of the night.
Even though we were getting full, we could not miss the 36-Hour Prime Boneless Beef Rib with parsnip puree, persillade, yams crunchies and pot liquor demi. The meat is tender and a knife is not needed to cut it. As for the parsnip puree, it is hard to tell that it is made from parsnips. You can taste all the butter whipped in there and it is just darn good.
To complete the meal, we thought we needed some vegetables so we had the Spicy Roasted Carrots with goat kefir, marinated tomatoes, toasted yellow eyed peas and Emeril’s Bam! The carrots definitely had a Bam! and I loved the crunchiness of the yellow eyed peas, the tart creaminess of the goat kefir and the bright acidity of the tomatoes.
We were stuffed but had to finish with the Key Lime Pie, handmade by bartender Kassady with a recipe from her momma.
As we were walking out, we were handed a small jar so that we could have a little sampling from the slushy machine on our way out.
Be sure to go hungry because this is the kind of food that sticks to your ribs and fills you up. Chef Monsour is a welcome addition to Los Angeles. If you are looking for flavorful, tasty and rich food made with local, fresh and seasonal ingredients, and most importantly soul, Preux & Proper is that place.
Preux & Proper
840 S Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90014