Proxi: Global street food in a contemporary setting

Proxi: Global street food in a contemporary setting
Proxi on West Randolph. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

Proxi, opened nearly two years ago in the West Loop, is the perfect choice for diners looking for something beyond Chicago's well-known steakhouses, Italian establishments and obligatory pizza palaces.

Chef Andrew Zimmerman

Chef Andrew Zimmerman. Photo:David Turner

It's a place where you can order innovative shareable plates from Michelin star chef Andrew Zimmerman (Sepia) that take you through global offerings of street food with the flavors of Thai, Indian, Middle-Eastern and American influences. 

The easy to follow menu is divided into three parts with food from the ground (veggies) food from the sea and meat based offerings.

For first-timers, wanting to try in all, a good starting point is to choose one or two offerings from each area to share.

The beautifully presented plates are easily shareable between two or three people.

We started with the Shaved Zucchini sheep’s milk feta, pine nuts, mint at $11 and the Grilled Mushroom and Yuba Noodle Salad ginger, scallion, togarashi at 12-both from the vegetable selections--giving us a little taste of Greece and Asia.

Both dishes were beautifully presented with a tantalizing mix of flavors

Next we jumped to the sea where the Coal Roasted Mussels 'nduja butter, grilled sourdough at $16 seemed to be the way to go. Next time, we may try the Grilled Whole Fish“Mexican Riviera Style”at  $26 which looked amazing.

Mussels. Photo: Paul Sttrabbing

Mussels. Photo: Paul Strabbing

Another adventuresome line-up of dishes from the meat section had us wondering what to order next. We finally narrowed it down to two:

  • The Grilled Lamb Kabob labne, parsley, tomato, sumac  $16
  • Grilled Wagyu Short Rib Kalbi kimchee, rice $24

We went with the Lamb Kabob that offer just the right amount of heat cooled down with the creamy labne.

Lamb Kabob. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

Lamb Kabob. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

Other popular menu items that are on our list for next time include the tempura-fried elotes,  masala-rubbed lamb ribs and Pastry Chef Sarah Mispagel’s whimsical, unconventional desserts.

Nestled on the first floor of the space that once housed the Werner Printing Company, Proxi, designed by NYC based firm Meyer Davis, was carefully renovated to reflect taking care to preserve existing architectural elements.

The restaurant is a stunner, seamlessly combining raw, rugged leathers and metals with more refined, hand-glazed tiles, rich velvets and chic furnishings.

The light filled space features washed wood with inset brass-framed mirrors covers the walls, and custom-designed cement tiles differentiate the bar and lounge space from the dining room.

Photo: David Burke

Photo: David Burke

A long, central leather banquette stretches out to anchor the dining room, flanked by additional tables and more banquettes along the walls.

The central bar, with its stone top, leather upholstered front, and cerused wood accents, sits opposite a chef’s table donning Noir St. Laurent marble and overlooking an exhibition kitchen.

Speaking of the bar, led by Head Bartender Jess Sandberg, Proxi’s cutting-edge bar program boasts broad appeal and innate playfulness. The cocktail menu unfolds from that seamless transition to offer fun, globally influenced libations, as well as housemade kombucha, limeade, Thai iced coffee, and sodas enjoyed on their own or in a cocktail, allowing the guest to create their own adventure. In tune with Proxi’s connection to global foods, Relkin also sources craft beers and ciders both domestically and internationally.

Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

Bruja in the City. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

Sandberg manages to add just the right amount of interesting spices without overwhelming the mix like the "Bruja in the City" that I enjoyed on my recent visit. The mezcal based cocktail used a combination of Strega, Saline, Egg white, lemon, fennel and star anise syrup topped with cracked pepper to make the one-of-kind beverage.

Proxi (565 W. Randolph) is Sepia’s next-door sister restaurant, run by the same team including Chef Andrew Zimmerman and managing partner Emmanuel Nony.

Small Bites of Chicago

The City's Farmer's Market season kicks off in a big way today with the opening of the Daley Plaza Market (50 W. Washington) with an opening day celebration starting at 9 am.  The market runs from 7 am. to 2 pm.--every Thursday through October.

There's a perfect Mother's Day brunch somewhere in the city for every mother's tastes but if you're wanting to try Proxi, this Mother's Day may just be the right ticket with their special Mother's Day menu.

Filed under: Chicago restaurants

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    Carole is an arts, entertainment and food journalist. She writes "Show Me Chicago" and "Chicago Eats" for ChicagoNow and covers Chicago places and events for Choose Chicago (City of Chicago) as well as freelancing for a variety of publications.


    I started writing when I was in grade school. And when I wasn’t writing or thinking about writing, I was reading what someone else had written. So it wasn’t a stretch for me to think about writing as a career. Neither was it a stretch to think about writing about food, a subject I’d always found interesting, more in terms of history, cooking, restaurants and culture than eating and critiquing. Decades after selling my first story, my interest in writing about food continues, and “A Bite of Chicago” gives me another opportunity to pursue my passion with people who share it.

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