It can be frustrating to be friends with a food blogger. I get it. I’ll make you wait to eat your dish until I get a good picture of it. It talk with the servers at length about the dish, the ingredients and the philosophy/history/culture of the restaurant or cuisine.
My brother-in-law gets so frustrated when I post pictures of meals he can’t attend that he threatens to unfriend me on Facebook on a regular basis.
So it was a special treat during my Christmas visit when my parents agreed to watch my niece and nephew for the night so my sister, brother-in-law and I could go out for a meal.
Proper, according to its website, specializes in “locally sourced down-home comfort food with a Southwestern slant.” According to its website, food served at Proper is locally sourced whenever possible. Apparently on past visits, there was more of an emphasis on the locally sourced. It wasn’t evident during our visit. But that’s probably the worst thing I have to say about the experience.
Snugly situated in a back booth, Em, Josh and I poured over the innovative cocktail menu and snacked on a House Board of Calabrese and English Cheddar cheeses, regular and spicy pork rillettes (similar to pate), cracked pepper + Parmesan lavosh, mission figs, apricots and a mixture of house pickled vegetables. It was a right proper flavor and texture smorgasbord.
Em started with the Porch Tea, featuring black tea infused vodka, citrus, rosemary and simple syrup while I couldn’t pass up the BEET Around the Bush, with vodka, lemon, ginger syrup, sage and house made beet bitters. I love that so many places are getting creative with shrubs and bitters. A cocktail like no other I’ve tried, it did not disappoint.
After pouring over the compact, but wide ranging dinner menu, we made our selections with the aid of our delightful and knowledgeable server Shanna. Em opted for the Fried Tomato Salad with smoky lime aioli, basil pistou, seasonal lettuce and Jones bacon. It’s basically what would happen if you deconstructed a BLT and added fried green tomatoes.
Josh went with the Roasted Top Knot Chicken Breast with Dijon emulsion, Joe’s collards and seasonal vegetables that included squash and carrots. I thought this entree was a little lacking in its presentation. Perhaps something shifted between the kitchen and table. Regardless, Josh said the flavor was excellent.
I could not resist the succulently tender Braised Beef Cheek with roasted (perhaps fried?) root vegetables, radicchio, a surprisingly sweet bread, shallots and red onion preserves.
There wasn’t a whole lot of conversation after the food came out and photos were snapped. That’s always the sign of a good meal, I think. And Proper certainly lived up to its comfort food billing. Each dish seemed well balanced and satisfying; familiar and flavorful.
Since it was a special occasion- close to Josh’s birthday and the first time in years the three of us had a nice “adults-only” meal together, we opted for dessert.
Emily opted for Churros con Chocolat made with Venezuelan chocolate and Josh inhaled his Peach cobbler and vanilla ice cream. I enjoyed a decadent Pot du Creme (like a fancy chocolate pudding) with minted whipped cream.
All in all, Proper was a delicious dining experience highlighted by Shanna’s friendly and efficient service. Located on a prime corner in downtown Tucson, Proper features a lovely open dining room with plank tables, giant chalkboard wall, stunningly tall vintage windows and an enticing wine cage- enclosed special dining area for larger parties.
With most dinner entrees in the $20-30 range, Proper is a wonderful option for a special dinner in a lovely downtown Tucson location.