Skip to main content

Sensi Magazine

When Cajun Calls

Nov 23, 2018 07:40PM ● By Dawn Garcia
Southern Californians have so much to be in love with, but it’s the food that ignites a lifelong love affair for everyone who lives here. We have access to every region of the world within the span of Los Angeles to San Diego, with an endless array of eateries and restaurants to cure our fanciful cravings. While diversity is what rings our bell, there is one type of cuisine that always makes you feel like celebrating, and that’s Louisiana-inspired Creole cooking. Preux & Proper (PREUXANDPROPER.COM) is just the fix.

Located in the heart of downtown Los Angeles’ fashion district, Preux & Proper, a Cajun restaurant owned by Baton Rouge-born Josh Kopel, has an extensive New Orleans-style menu cooked up by Chef Sammy Monsour. As the name suggests, this restaurant does it right. With good old Southern charm, Preux & Proper is where restraint is a thing you’ll ditch as you devour hearty plates, rich flavors, and cocktails so good you’ll wonder how they’re legal.

Chef Monsour’s cuisine “Is like your grandma’s food went to school, traveled around the world, and came back to you beautifully plated with one hell of a story to tell,” Kopel says. A match made in heaven.

The restaurant delivers two concepts in two spaces. Downstairs you’ll find Preux, a casual, fully-fledged daiquiri bar with soul food comfort bites. It’s the Cheers of LA. Preux pronounced pru in French means brave, gallant, courageous, and valiant. It’s almost like being set up for the night to begin or end in a proper superhero stance. The food and the bar are inspired by memories of growing up in New Orleans, surrounded by happy, flavor-forward food.

“The way to your heart is through your stomach,” someone once said, and they were right. When you’re ready for bar food that isn’t the redundant fries and nachos, Preux has you covered. While everything on the menu calls your name like a siren in the open shore, beginning with the cornbread that’s been bathed in a bit of Kentucky sorghum, following it with Mississippi catfish is never a bad idea. The cornmeal-crusted catfish is smothered in a buttermilk marinade and served with pickles, celery salt, and red remoulade. Order a daiquiri dealer’s choice—and top it off with a deep dish biscuit pizza, perhaps topped with Paulie’s pomegranate-habanero barbecue pork, shrimp jambalaya with chunky Creole tomato sauce, or seasonal mushroom with Tone’s pine nut pesto. The fixins will make you moan out loud.

Proper is the more elegant restaurant upstairs. At Proper, the bar beckons, and that’s the place to begin. Want a Voodoo Queen, a Treasure Island, or a Punk Evans? The mixology will entertain your need for something that’s dirty, offers a low country cure, or tiptoes on your tongue with elixirs that may or may not put you under a spell. These are like glasses of art, and from the nose of each libation down to the very last sip, you’re captivated by quality ingredients, a whole lot of passion, and a plentiful dose of sexy. Be sure to order an Old Fashioned. Made with a limited-release barrel of 110 proof Maker’s Mark, notes of caramel, oak, and orange rind sit on the palate like a shotgun wedding, and the tasty surprise is one you’ll envelop, not run from!

After a proper drink, move to starters and shared plates. Everyone eats together, forks all touching the same dish, hearty appetites warmly remedied with cuisine that has all the makings of a perfect New Orleans night on Bourbon Street. Depending on your willingness to make way for every conceivable flavor profile, it’s the simplest of Southern dishes that tend to leave that indefinite mark of greatness. The black-eyed peas are cooked so sublimely, with a mesmerizing bite of spice, that you’ll feel transported to a place where the brass is blowing. Love a well charred octopus? This eight-legged sea creature served alongside crispy Weiser fingerlings with anchovy remoulade, mustard frills, and blood orange mojo will sink like butter onto your teeth and spruce up that dormant desire. With mild infusions of Cuban flavors, this is succulent all the way down to the last tentacle. Pair the octopus with the spicy roasted carrots bursting with adventurous layers of flavor, crunchy jerk chickpeas, and golden beets that pack a textural punch.

This menu is undeniably good. It doesn’t matter if you order collard greens, house andouille sausage, seafood gumbo, or the decadent foie gras every plating is beautifully presented with flavor and an echelon of greatness to match. Make room for strawberry rhubarb cornbread cobbler and pâte à choux beignets that transcend you into a kitchen filled with all the romance of Southern charm. The cobbler is balanced with fruits plucked fresh from the orchards with a heartiness only a grandmother could create. This sweet, savory wonder with nuances of lemon verbena will not disappoint. As for the beignets, well, the addition of bananas foster and dulce de leche takes this to the next level. You could say these beignets tap into your inner child if your inner child has exquisite taste.

Preux & Proper is a fixture in the Los Angeles terrain of award-worthy cuisine, with the added
bonus of no pretention interfering with the experience. With a design that breeds style and
finesse, it’s a dining experience you need to submerge yourself in.