Earlier this fall, New Orleans’ Warehouse District welcomed Plates Restaurant & Bar, a space in a former cotton mill inspired by the idea of culinary congregation. It’s fitting, then, that Plates chef Farrell Harrison is sharing this side sure to inspire seconds at Thanksgiving.
Plates, the dream of Harrison and longtime friend and former Link Restaurant Group general manager Brian Weisnicht, opened with a menu that revolves around the passing of plates, as you would at a large family gathering. Harrison includes dashes of Creole cuisine, as well as moments of European and Southeast Asian influences, all of which represents the immigrant-heavy historic culture of the city. Diners, for instance, will find both beef bombas—a beloved recipe in Spain—and a mustard-braised rabbit with German-style spaetzle, a traditional boiled noodle. The Mediterranean in particular shines here, with the drink list skews heavily toward bottles from that region.
Weisnicht spearheaded the wine selections and collaborated with lead bartender Paula Echevarria. “When Paula heard about our tapas concept,” Harrison says, “she knew she needed to bring her cultural knowledge and Spanish roots to the table. Paula loves to share her passion of vermouth and sherry by creating approachable cocktails worthy of the New Orleans historically rich palate.”
That also palate gets satiated with a large menu divided into hot and cold preparations, the former of which includes the likes of seared scallop maque choux, with sweet corn puree and romesco; a pork porterhouse, with sweet potato gratin, creole mustard, and bordelaise; and a crispy coq au vin with mushrooms, confit potatoes, and a red wine jus. On the cold side comes this this creative roasted squash dish that’s easy to serve and offers plenty of oomph in the form of an intoxicating, butter-based dressing.
“I love the flavor profile of butternut squash with brown butter,” Harrison says, “and typically have gone the route of a gnocchi on menus before, but I wanted to challenge myself and the team to make a warm or room-temp salad. We are an extremely collaborative kitchen, and this is a prime example of how each dish is built with input from everyone. The final salad has come to be a favorite among our regulars due to the flavor profile hitting familiar notes but being presented in a different light.”