Best Barbecue & Southern Comfort Food in Downtown St. Pete
We went to dinner at Proper Kitchen & Cocktails with our friends Aubrey and Kristen last Saturday night and were blown away at how good it was. We started off with the Seafood Hush Puppies because they were recommended by the owner, Stephen. (The funny thing is that our server didn't recommend them, but she didn't know that we had talked to Stephen earlier in the day.) We're glad we went with the owner's recommendation over the server's.
The Seafood Hush Puppies are stuffed with shrimp and crab, and served over a delicious smoked tomato-caper aioli.
We were glad our friends came with us. Kristen, because she's cute as a button, and Aubrey because he's from the south. What Aubrey said about the seafood Hush Puppies was ...
"My great uncle from Tuscaloosa, Alabama used to make southern hush puppies just like this. These are outstanding. They remind me of my childhood. This is the way you do it."
You can see the shrimp on the inside here. It's the perfect marriage of comfort food and seafood.
Another good thing about having our friends with us is that we can order more stuff to try.
We decided to get the Smoked Meats Sampler—Compart Duroc Pulled Pork, Angus Beef Brisket, Free Bird Half Chicken, and Garlic Smoked Sausages which came with a biscuit and house slaw.
The meats are smoked in a giant smoker outside in the back using pecan and oak woods.
We got all three sauces to accompany the smoked meats - Classic, Gold, and Sweet & Spicy. I liked all of the sauces quite a lot, and the sweet & spicy had a nice little kick to it. Lori liked the gold the best. It was a honey-mustard.
We also ordered the Farmhouse Fried Chicken, and a few sides. Overall, everything was very good with some things being better than others and only two issues, one minor and the other average. Here's the rundown starting with the smoked meats sampler.
One issue was that the Smoked Chicken was a little bit dry. It tasted good, and the bbq sauce helped, but the fried chicken is to die for. (More on that later.) The biscuit, slaw, and pulled pork were quite good.
The stars of the smoked meats were the Garlic Smoked Sausages (amazing) and the Angus Beef Brisket.
Aubrey on the brisket:
"Drop your mouth to the ground delicious. It's out of bounds ... just off the charts!"
Fried Green Tomatoes - Crab Mornay, Spicy Honey Drizzle. Lori: "Fried crispy perfectly almost like panko. Crab creamy sauce was tasty." Everyone loved these.
Smoked Cream Corn - Leeks, Cream, Garlic, Parmesan Cheese. Lori said; "Smoky and delish." I said; "Damn! These are amazing!" This dish is smoky and hearty. The kernels are large with a nice tight skin and soft inside for a great mouthfeel and delightful taste. These are tied for the best "cream corn" side dish in Downtown St. Pete. Rococo's and Proper's are both amazing, although it's not an exact "apples-to-apples" comparison. You can read about Rococo's corn here.
4-Cheese Mac - Smoked Gouda, Sharp Yellow Cheddar, Parmesan, White Cheddar, Cornbread Crust. The other small issue besides the smoked chicken being a little dry, was that the mac & cheese was not served hot enough. However, it was delicious—a great marriage of flavors.
Braised Greens - Kale, Swiss Chard, Collards, House Cured Bacon. Lori said; "Good, but not outstanding." I disagreed and thought they were excellent. (Guess who got the leftovers on this one.)
Farmhouse Fried Chicken - Airline Breast, Yukon Gold Mashers, Bacon Braised Brussels, Shiner Bock Demi. This one brought the house down. We have another "Best in Downtown" for the fried chicken at Proper. It was pure perfection.
Aubrey said: "The fried chicken reminds me of a classic in Atlanta, which was the Aunt Fanny's Cabin. They used to have the best fried chicken in Atlanta. It has a little sweetness, like a maple syrup with a little bit of pepper spice to make it sweet and spicy at the same time. This is outstanding."
Proper Kitchen & Cocktails is now open until 3 am most nights. Midnight on Sunday, and closed on Monday.
Go check out the newest and best barbecue and southern comfort food in Downtown St. Petersburg, and then hop next door to Park & Rec for some bar games, like table hockey, and hoops.
Proper Kitchen & Cocktails is the Best Barbecue & Southern Comfort Food in Downtown St. Pete. Located right in the heart of DTSP.