Plates NOLA Offers Great New Place for Foodies and Friends

Photo source: Marielle Songy

It was a bustling Friday night when I visited Plates NOLA, the fun new restaurant in the Warehouse District, 1051 Annunciation St. co-owned by executive chef Farrell Harrison and general manager Brian Weisnicht. 

Harrison was raised in Chalmette and has worked in the New Orleans restaurant scene for twenty-five years. After completing his culinary education at Nicholls State University, he began working for the Besh Group at the American Sector at the World War II Museum under chef Todd Pulsinelli. From there, he worked at Borgne under chef Brian Landry. When the Pontchartrain Hotel reopened, Landry asked Harrison to join chef Chris Luck as a part of the opening team. While at the hotel, he had a hand in developing the menu at the hotel’s casual bar spot, Bayou Bar. After his time there, he became chef de cuisine at Public Service, the restaurant at the NOPSI hotel. It was here that he met Weisnicht, who was the general manager. Together, they revamped the restaurant’s food and beverage program. He was the chef de cuisine at Josephine Estelle at the Ace Hotel until he and Weisnicht collaborated to open Plates NOLA last month.

Weisnicht has worked in the hospitality industry at G.W. Fins, Public Service, Cochon, and Butcher. When he and Harrison were deciding what they wanted Plates NOLA to look like, first and foremost, they wanted to bring back the social aspect of the dining experience.

“We noticed there wasn’t a lot of socialization happening at the table anymore,” Harrison said. “People were just involved with their phones while they were having a meal. We felt like we were starting to lose what New Orleans is famous for- talking about great food. We wanted to bring the aspect back of interacting with the people you are dining with.”

When designing the menu at Plates NOLA, Harrison wanted to create a menu where people could order small portions and share them; he has created an experience that pulls from various cultures, such as French, German, English, North African, Native American, and Vietnamese. 

Photo source: Marielle Songy

Harrison said, “You see those inspirations throughout the menu. It’s familiar New Orleans flavors done in a way that hasn’t been seen on other menus.”

Dishes include Scallop “maque choux,” which Harrison described as a sweet corn puree, and seared scallops topped with a broken romesco vinaigrette. Marcona almonds, sherry vinegar, and piquillo peppers finish the dish. 

“All of that combined together with the sweet corn is similar to the taste you would expect from corn maque choux,” Harrison explained.

Another one of Harrison’s specialties is a dish called After the Boil, made with poached Gulf shrimp, German potato salad, and bacon. Harrison explained that it’s his twist on an old classic. When I visited, I enjoy the simplicity of this dish. It was packed with flavor and the perfect amount of spice.

“We take the aspect of a shrimp and spicy potato, mayonnaise-based potato salad and make it more presentable,” he said. “What comes about is a warm German potato salad with bacon vinaigrette, tons of Creole mustard and pickled mustard seeds, with thinly sliced crab broil potatoes, and boiled spicy shrimp topped with crispy bacon. It’s one of those things that came to us and we loved it when we tried it.”

Mustard Braised Rabbit, a German-inspired dish, stands out on the Plates NOLA menu. Harrison said he starts with Mississippi rabbits from Rabbitman Farms. He sits the rabbit overnight with a confit-style seasoning rub and Creole mustard. The following day, the rabbit is seared, and chicken stock, thyme, tarragon, rosemary, onion, garlic, and carrots are added. The dish is braised slow and low for an hour and a half so the meat can be easily pulled from the bone. The liquid that the rabbit was cooked in is folded into the meat. The rabbit is then served over a bed of spaetzle and pork-free greens. This is the dish I was most looking forward to when I visited Plates NOLA; I especially enjoyed the balance of the rabbit’s decadent richness with the perfectly cooked greens.

Photo source: Marielle Songy

Plates NOLA also serves a weekend brunch that includes Chorizo Hash made with dry, salt-roasted fingerling potatoes that are smashed and fried until crispy. House-made Spanish-style chorizo is rendered down, and the potatoes are tossed in with green onions and a chili-garlic crunch. The hash is then topped with a fried egg.

Another favorite is Garlic Shrimp, which are pan-seared and served over black garlic soubise and topped with Vietnamese-inspired chili oil that includes ginger, lemongrass, shallots, and garlic. The result is a dish with smoky and fresh flavors.

“It’s one of those dishes that crosses multiple types of cuisines but hits really well,” Harrison said.

The bar menu is inspired by the Mediterranean, employing such ingredients as sherry, vermouth, gin, and rum. Weisnicht explained that some cocktails are lighter and meant to be enjoyed with other cocktails, while others pack more of a punch. Selections include Bamboo with Cigarrera Manzanilla sherry, dry vermouth, and Stambecco cherry amaro; Origin Story with tequila, Lillet Rose, Aperol, grapefruit juice, and lime; and Pedro Suckerpunch with Old Forester, Ramazzotti amaro, PX sherry, and espresso bean.

Plates NOLA is open Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 pm., and Friday through Sunday, 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Lunch is served on Friday and Brunch is served on Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. On Sundays that the Saints play at noon, the restaurant opens at 10:00 a.m.

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