The wondrous flavors of New Orleans have assimilated with the Angelino palate through Preux & Proper, bringing a quaint-yet-stylish, casual-yet-classy taste to on one of DTLA’s busy thoroughfares. ‘Colonel’ Josh Kopel and Executive Chef Sammy Monsour have created a masterful experience with Cajun-inspired dishes and elegant SoCal panache, striking patrons with a cultural intrigue that gets this place popping night after night.
The humble entrance off Spring Street transports you straight to NoLa, frozen drink machines and all. Walk up the stairs to enter Proper Dining Hall, where everything on a plate sticks to its Cajun roots while the bustling bar, lounge and dining area screams hip LA. Craft cocktails go far beyond NoLa’s hurricanes [the drink, to avoid any confusion here], such as the rising sun, with Japanese whisky, egg white and yuzu; the voodoo queen, with Jamaican rum and jerk bitters; and the mezcalarita del diablo, with ancho syrup and chipotle. Step onto the restaurant’s small balcony after a few of these and you may see someone down below asking for beads.
Preux & Proper dishes out sizeable portions, with featured shared plates like the grilled yellow street corn, a take on Mexican elote, as well as a chicken liver pate that spreads beautifully over grilled baguette. The southern fried section, however, really takes it home. The fried whole game hen, essentially a high-end version of chicken and biscuits, is a meal to remember, with a sweet, crunchy coating, fluffy biscuits and a honey finish that makes it all come together. For an additional splurge, go for the 36-hour prime boneless beef rib, a melt-in-your-mouth indulgence complemented beautifully with mashed yams and crispy parsnip chips.
Preux & Proper is located at 840 S. Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90014. Open 4 – 10p Mon – Wed, 4p – midnight Thu, 4 – 11p Fri/Sat and noon – 9p Sun. Avg. out-the-door cost for split appetizer, split charcuterie, entrée, split dessert and 1 – 2 drinks is ~$105/person. For more information call (213) 896-0090 or visit PreuxAndProper.com
Once Chef Brian Malarkey’s brain child and now owned by the ever-growing Hakkasan group, Searsucker melds sophisticated flavor profiles with a playful and energetic atmosphere. Chic lighting, chef-centric wall art, a spacious dining room and an upscale menu are certainly a big step up from Munchbar, the late night spot that used to occupy the space.
Even though Chef Malarkey is no longer at the helm, Searsucker continues to showcase a globally inspired menu of upscale renditions on comfort classics. Hovering somewhere in the ecosphere between high-end gastropub and modern steakhouse, Searsucker presents a concentrated yet diverse array of options to satisfy a broad spectrum of palates and budgets…by Vegas standards, at least.
Begin your outing with Searsucker’s award-winning bone marrow, with a buttery richness and bold, flavorful crust that sits perfectly atop the grilled crostinis served alongside. Also worth checking out is the calamari, where Searsucker goes in a great new direction with slices of calamari steak breaded just enough to add texture and drenched in a chili honey glaze.
A number of off-beat steaks (think flat iron) make up a fair portion of the entrees, as does some excellent seafood. The seared diver scallops are perfectly cooked and go very well with the meaty hen of the woods mushrooms served alongside. If you’re really in the mood to indulge, make your way to the ‘family’ section and spring for the 2-pound lobster, a succulent masterpiece in all its glory. Pair it, or anything on the menu for that matter, with the duck fat fries, a mountainous concoction chock full of garlic, parmesan and pancetta.
End your meal with the chocolate croissant bread pudding, or another cocktail from Searsucker’s inventive list. Watch the lines build up at Omnia nightclub right next door. You never know; your evening might just be getting started.
Searsucker is located at Caesar’s Palace, 3570 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89109. Open 5 – 11p Sun, Mon, Wed and Thu; 5p – midnight Tue, Fri, Sat. Average out-the-door price for appetizer, entrée, split side and 1-2 drinks is ~$145/person. For more information call (702) 866-1800 or visit SearSucker.com/Las-Vegas.
The San Diego Spirits Festival saw another successful year in the Port Pavilion on the San Diego Harbor. An intimate event in comparison to your typical festival, the San Diego Spirits Festival kept a strong focus on its namesake, bringing together an assortment of vodkas, tequilas, whiskeys and other libations.
Big brands such as Ketel One and Don Julio came out to show off some of their newest flavors, with Ketel One’s grapefruit & rose making a strong impression. Tito’s vodka and Reed’s ginger brew teamed up to make ‘the American mule,’ and Lillet made a signature wine cocktail as well.
The festival was dominated, however, by smaller, emerging brands that brought the same panache to the table. Caramba tequila got the party going with a number of extravagant margaritas. American soju surprised everyone by distancing its branding away from the drink’s Korean roots, and making a [rather tasty] soju-based margarita.
44 North Vodka, an under-the-radar brand that secretly supplies the key ingredient to electric lemonades at Las Vegas pool parties and popular restaurants [Hash House a Go Go being one of them] showcased an excellent cocktail selection. Big Gin served alongside, with a number of namesake drinks. One of the absolute highlights, however, was Mule 2.0, which absolutely elevated pre-mixed cocktails by delivering a great product right out of the can.
With the historic Midway on one side, the downtown skyline on the other and perfect sunshine all the way through, this annual event couldn’t have asked for better conditions. The San Diego Spirits Festival took place over two days, and also included live entertainment [samba dancers and a snake charmer in tow!], a spirit competition and a bottle competition. While limited food is available for purchase at the festival, guests are strongly encouraged to eat prior to the event. SanDiegoSpiritsFestival.com
Benjamin Brown is a seasoned restaurant writer and hospitality consultant, serving up SoCal's hottest food news and reviews.