Dishing on plates

Launched early this fall, plates (yep, with a lowercase “p”, if you please) is a new restaurant in the Warehouse District by Chalmatian-born chef Farrell Harrison. The immense restaurant is located behind the Cotton Mill Apartments, on the corner of Annunciation and John Churchill Chase, and while its gone through a few iterations, the one I remember most is Sun Ray Grill, a restaurant still in operation across the river in Gretna.

It’s no coincidence that Chef Harrison chose the Warehouse District building for his first restaurant, co-owned with former Link Restaurant Group GM Brian Weisnicht. Harrison actually worked at Sun Ray Grill long ago, before the levee failures of 2005, and throughout his career working in kitchens across the city (ie. Cochon, NOPSI’s Public Service, and Josephine Estelle) his path has now come full circle.

In early November, John and I were invited to try out their new brunch menu and we happily agreed, because who says no to a multi-course brunch in New Orleans? Certainly not us.

While Chef Harrison and his well-trained staff plied us with plate after plate . . . after plate . . . of brunchy goodness, I will highlight the best of the best, starting with well, the plates! With every shareable course (and even ones not so shareable!), we each received a different plate, a feature John took full advantage of, given his predilection for photographing dinnerware. It was the sort of lagniappe we love, and as each course passed, we were excited to see the next plate.

From tuna dip with saltine crackers and grilled sweet potatoes with Vietnamese caramel to braised beef croquettes, I believe we stuffed at least half the menu in our greedy maws, but as always, we had our favorites.

Louisiana Blue Crab Claws with Vietnamese nước chấm at plates

The first dish to capture our attention was an appetizer of Louisiana blue crab claws with a tangy nước chấm (a.k.a. Vietnamese dipping sauce) garnished with carrot, chilies, and mint. John and I kept a strict count of who had how many until, sadly, there was nothing left to have.

Wild mushroom toast with aged goat cheese at plates

The second was a wild mushroom “toast” — a large slice of grilled sourdough layered with creamy, aged goat cheese, wild mushrooms slow-simmered with sherry and a bright-yellow yolk farm-egg on top. Chef Harrison brought out this dish and regaled us with his own mushroom toast story starring himself as a young adult forever enthralled by his dining experience at Mimi’s in the Marigny. Harrison’s version of mushroom toast is a culinary ode to that now-closed, but forever-remembered Marigny neighborhood restaurant.

Sweet potato pie with coconut ice cream at plates

Finally, while waiting on dessert — sweet potato pie with coconut ice cream, blackberries and pecan “dust” — the chef returned to our table again, knowing full well our bellies were already flashing bright neon “no admittance” signs, with yet another savory plate in hand, his signature brunch burger. Backyard barbecue-thick, this sublime burger was made with a well seasoned, short rib ground beef patty topped with squeaky cheese curds, tomato onion jam, pimentón aioli and a heap of shredded lettuce. A small bite was enough to prove this was what we wanted for dinner, and several hours later we demolished it while watching anime in the comfort of our own home.

“The” Brunch Burger at plates

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