In the heart of Winter Park, FL lies our next local spotlight: Proper & Wild. Located right on Park Avenue, this newly opened restaurant fits in perfectly amongst the local parks and boutiques, providing visitors with a nice balance of city and nature. Owned by parent company Real Damn Good Food, Proper & Wild lives up to its heritage by serving both vegan and vegetarian food, organic coffee, and organic, cold-pressed juice.
As health foodies ourselves, we knew we had to check it out as soon as it opened. Read on below for our review of Proper & Wild, and don't forget to head to their Instagram for some drool-worthy posts!
The Look - What You'll See
When you first walk in you are received by a beautiful marble bar full of light décor and warm colors. Stylish, yellow tiles decorate the wall behind it, while the Proper & Wild logo is placed directly in the center. On either side of the logo are open shelving units, as well as a classic coffee machine and draft beer station.
The presentation of the food is very clean and minimalistic, with some items being served on wood boards and others on black ceramic plates. Although we did find that some items are not staged as well as they could be (such as their PB&J and small desserts), other entrees such as their flatbreads, salads, handhelds, and starters are very well put together. Their clean presentation chooses to highlight their food instead of decorations, so customers can get a feel for the high quality, fresh food they will have when dining here.
The bar is definitely our favorite space in the restaurant simply because of the unique details that have gone into creating it. Between the gold spatula and the plants hanging from the shelves, you have a delightful view while enjoying your food, even if you are not seated at a window. Overall, we found that the design plays with both modern and minimal elements while incorporating some warm, earthy pieces and colors, all of which come together in a very pleasing way.
The Ambiance - What You'll Hear
As soon as we entered the restaurant we were immediately greeted by the Proper & Wild staff, all of whom were very friendly. The music playlist was made of a selection of tracks that included chill step, jazz, ballads, and other slow, low-fi songs that are mostly there to provide background noise for guests.
The restaurant did get quite loud during lunch, but not unbearably so. It was mostly just social chatter, so if you go after the lunch rush it is a great place to grab a cup of coffee and work, study, or just hangout.
Proper & Wild is not a large restaurant, and with the bar taking up so much space the sitting arrangements seemed a little odd and tightly packed. Nevertheless, it was still a very inviting place to be in due to its well thought out design.
Orlando natives are used to a variety of vegan friendly foods, so Proper & Wild's menu fits right into local palates. That being said, its innovative take on vegan and vegetarian food has led to some very creative flavor combinations, so you won't get any franchise-esque food here! All of the dishes are chef-driven, so guests are able to explore new recipes such as cashew cheese and chickpea fries - foods that can be quite mind-blowing for those new to this type of cuisine! For example, in the Elote Flatbreat the chef combines cilantro crema (a bit on the bitter side), adobe aioli, fresno chili (super spicy), and cashew ricotta - where else can you find those types of ingredients being meshed together to form a delicious dish?
What we ordered: Chickpea Fries, Vegetable Butcher, Grilled PB&J, Elote Flatbreat (very spicy!), and for dessert a Lemon Rosemary Cookie and a Macaroonie, which we learned is the magical combination of a brownie and a macaroon.
What we thought: The Chickpea Fries were a great combination of sweet and sour via the curry and the sweet sauce that comes with it. However, we thought that the Grilled PB&J had some room for improvement. $7 for a simple sandwich left a lot to be desired, and it was agreed that we would have paid $8 for a Grilled PB&J that came with small extras like powder sugar or a dipping sauce to make the dish more special. This would have transformed it into a “Proper and Wild experience” instead of just a sandwich we could make at home.
The flatbread was delicious, but we would have preferred less sauce and cashew cheese as they overpowered the other ingredients.
After leaving Proper & Wild our team had some mixed feelings. One of them (who is not vegan) was thrown off by the unique flavor profiles, so with that taken into consideration, we would recommend this restaurant to anyone who has an adventurous palate, especially if they enjoy vegan and vegetarian food, or those who enjoy higher-end cuisine. That being said we found it a bit on the expensive side where portions are concerned, and the deserts leave a lot to be desired due to their small size.
We also thought the restaurant seemed a bit unorganized where its operations were concerned. There was not a clear host or bartender to make the dining experience smoother, and the manager gave us the check instead of our waiter before we got the chance to order coffees to go. This made everything seem slightly rushed towards the end.
The Bottom Line
Overall the presentation and waiting time at Proper & Wild were good, and people didn’t seem to wait more than 5min before being helped. The restaurant was very clean and has a great vibe, and you get a delicious whiff of smells whenever food goes by or when coffee is being made. The food itself has a lot of different flavors and is perfect for adventurous foodies, so if this sounds like your kind of place and you are in the area, then go ahead and give Proper & Wild a try!
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