Be forewarned: A trip to Proxi will undoubtedly leave you wanting more. It’s not that the menu is lacking; on the contrary, it’s rife with so many tough decisions that you’ll have to book a second visit to try it all. Tempura elotes or roasted baby potato carbonara? Baby octopus or raw tuna? BBQ lamb ribs or Wagyu sirloin? It’s not for the indecisive, but Proxi has officially landed on my short list of restaurants I’d gladly frequent every weekend if I could.
The magic starts as soon as you walk through the massive doors off Randolph Street (Proxi is located next to its sister restaurant, Sepia, and down the street from Avec and Blackbird) and into the sun-drenched, tile-adorned bar. My date and I arrived early and grabbed seats at the bar for a round of cocktails. I was immediately enamored with the Don’t Chouette It, a play on an Aperol Spritz with blood orange juice and champagne ice cubes (really); the bright orange concoction evolved as I sipped, making it both dynamic and delicious. The bold but sweet Josper O.F., on the other hand, was the perfect transition into dinner, with Japanese whiskey, roasted demerara, Thai bitters and barbecue smoke.
Back to those tough decisions. Chef Andrew Zimmerman’s menu is divided into three sections—veggies, fish and land-cruising meat—and your server will advise you to dabble in each. You can’t walk out of Proxi without trying the tempura elotes, clusters of perfectly fried sweet corn with chives, chili, lime, parmesan and a mayo drizzle. Balance that crispy goodness with an order of roasted eggplant, which arrived swimming in tahini and pomegranate seeds. The real star of this dish was the warm paratha, an Indian flatbread that’s griddled to pillowy perfection. Another early favorite was the raw tuna, which is immersed in coconut milk and accented with a dollop of refreshing lemongrass and ginger sorbet.
By the time we got to the third section of the menu, the Indonesian pork jerky seemed skippable, which would have been a huge mistake. Unlike the dried-out packaged stuff from the grocery store, six skewered ribbons of caramelized pork stood at attention on a small wooden platform. Each bite was a complicated dance of sweet and savory notes. By the time the Wagyu sirloin arrived, my date and I swore it was the wrong dish, but the petite bowl of unassuming Thai herbs was just a cover for a buried treasure trove of expertly cooked ruby-red steak.
When pastry chef Sarah Mispagel’s dessert menu comes around, I’d urge you to invest any spare stomach space in the tres leches cake, a cube of dense, milk-laden pastry showered in strawberries, shards of meringue and bits of caramelized goat’s milk. The result is so decadent and lovely that I can’t imagine another morsel satisfying my sweet tooth in quite the same way.
I’m still convinced that I floated out of Proxi on a cloud that night, and as my date and I hopped in our Uber home, I had just one thought: How soon is too soon to return?
Atmosphere: The space is so expertly designed that you’ll swear it’s actually a catalog backdrop for some wildly trendy, hygge-friendly furniture store.
What to eat: A little bit of everything. Don’t skip the tempura elotes, Indonesian pork jerky or tres leches cake.
What to drink: Keep an eye out for funky (and flavorful) ingredients like grilled corn-infused tequila, champagne ice cubes and barbecue smoke.
Where to sit: If you can, arrive early and sit in the sunny bar for a drink. When dinner rolls around, there’s not a bad seat in the house.