I love everything about Proxi, the new restaurant from the folks behind the perennial favorite Sepia. The decor, ambiance, service and food are all exquisite, and a perfect place for a drink and small bite at the bar, or a full service sit down dinner with friends or with a business prospect.
The menu is inspired by bold flavors of multi-cultural street foods using pristine ingredients executed perfectly. The decor, with over-sized leather booths, are separated by a lively and bright central bar, a great spot for happy hour or pre-dinner drinks. Brass-framed mirrors, rustic wood floor planks, and custom-designed cement tiles had me spending as much time taking in the decor as I did enjoying the food.
Quality cocktails abound, including the Revive & Recover, a Pisco-based drink with Luxardo Aperitivo, lychee and lemon, as well as the El-OTAY!, a margarita of sorts with grilled corn infused tequila, agave, lime and Tajin salt. Spanish style Gin & Tonics have a nice spot on the menu, and the beers, ciders and wines are well rounded and do not disappoint. Our server was fantastic, and we fully trusted her to curate a drink pairing throughout our meal.
If you only try one bite, be sure it is the Tempura Elotes. A sophisticated take on the Mexican street food, it is, in one word: magical.
The Roasted Eggplant is smooth, creamy, and evocative of Middle Eastern babaganoush or Indian baignan bharta, served with warm and soft pita bread.
Two excellent seafood starters are the Baby Octopus and Raw Tuna, with the tuna surprisingly being my favorite, with cooling coconut milk, lemongrass and a refreshing ginger sorbet.
If you’ve never tried Fried Fish Collars, you are missing out. They have been my favorite food of the year, and this iteration, with a Thai garlic-chili sauce, took me right back to Thailand and did not disappoint.
The Black Pepper Pork dish is interactive and fun, requiring some hands-on lettuce wrap making skills. Labeled bottles of sriracha and hoisin sauce add some flavor to the butter lettuce, peanuts, apple and mint accompaniments.
Definitely save room for dessert. Among my favorites were the Pot de Creme and Tres Leches. While decadent, both are still light and refreshing enough to follow a flavorful meal, perfectly rounding out an excellent international experience.
Proxi is open for dinner seven days a week. Reservations are highly recommended, especially on the weekends.
565 West Randolph Street, Chicago, IL