The Munch Factory

The Munch Factory

6325 Elysian Fields Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70122
(504) 324-5372
www.themunchfactory.net

Recently, I hesitantly accompanied someone to dinner on a Thursday night after an extremely grueling day at work. All I could think of was going home and taking my usual nap on the sofa before bedding down for the night. Now all I can think of is a revisit to The Munch Factory.

The Munch Factory on Elysian Fields Avenue
Fines Herb Chicken

If you ever felt that the native, young residents of this wonderful city of New Orleans have no direction, think again and take a ride over to 6325 Elysian Fields Avenue. Have dinner and then give me your opinion. Hat's off to 20+ Chef Jordan Ruiz and his young wife, Alexis, the owners of this eatery that has the community both talking and eating. Trained at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, I am ecstatic that Chef Ruiz returned to New Orleans, his hometown, to showcase his trade.

After being totally impressed on my dining experience, I researched the history of this restaurant and discovered that they were previously housed at 5339 Franklin Avenue. I was told by my dinner date that those quarters were too small and could not accommodate the many regular guests and that the parking was horrible, consisting mostly of on street. The new location has a well-lit, convenient parking lot that will hold not only the guests seated vehicles, but also those that have agreed to wait their turn to dine.

We were greeted at the front counter by Chef Jordan's mom. Yes, this is a family affair and it gives you not only wonderful cuisine, but also a homey atmosphere while dining. Alexis the wife/co-owner promptly welcomed us and showed us to our table and handed us menus. She answered the many questions I had trying to decide what to order and graphically described each item as though they too were part of the Ruiz family. After placing our dinner orders, I began to understand why it is called The Munch Factory. You want to munch and sample everything because it all sounds so tasty. My partner, a regular, ordered an appetizer and insisted that I follow the cue. I agreed and am glad I did, ordering a bowl, not a cup, of classic "old school" chicken and sausage gumbo as the menu describes it. A side item of tomato and basil salad for sharing was also ordered at a price of $3.50. I could have devoured this on my own. Chilled perfectly and with just the right dash of basil, it was perfect. Sorry folks, Nola Roux forgot to photograph the gumbo, only realizing it when all that was left was the spoon and bowl.

the munch factory in New Orleans
Rib Eye Grilled Steak

I settled on the Rib Eye Grilled Steak (medium well), topped with a homemade steak butter sauce served with garlic mashed potatoes and sauteed green bean, all for a reasonable cost of $20.00. Although bread was not listed on the menu, my dining partner and I requested it for an extra .50 each. If I had to use one word to describe this meal, it would be simply delicious. There was a perfect touch of crusty grilled edges on the steak that was appealing. My dining partner decided to have the Fines Herb Chicken (a whole half of chicken) having heard so many people rave about it during her frequent visits and never trying it before. This chicken is unbelievable! Yes, I also helped her finish her selection. Remember, it is called The Munch Factory; this chicken is pan-fried and roasted at the same time, topped with a creamy herb sauce. I know that sounds impossible, but trust me, you have to try it! Chef Ruiz definitely has skills! It is accompanied by potato croquettes (something I have not seen on any menus locally) with smoked Gouda and Tasso, plus green beans. This is a deal at only $16.00. There was no room for dessert, but it is offered - Tres Leches Cake (angel food cake soaked in milk, topped with whipped cream) and bread pudding (traditional in a bed of rum sauce) for $6.00 each. There are also sandwiches of various types from an Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwich that I have heard is very good to Mo's Patty Melt (hot sausage patties pressed with American cheese, tomatoes and mayo). Seafood (oysters and shrimp) and roast beef are also listed on the menu. Check out the website to get a glimpse of all that The Munch Factory has to offer. It is kid friendly and offers a kids menu and also vegetarian options. Visit the newly opened bar if you like to have alcoholic beverages with your meal or after.

Wall of Frame

I must confess. Since sampling the Fines Herb Chicken, I have thought of it constantly and am planning a return visit. I now feel part of the inner circle that knows one of this city's culinary best-kept secrets. I am hoping that this secret gets out of the inner circle and makes its way into other circles around the city. Note that the hours of operation are Tuesday thru Saturday 5-9 pm and on Friday, lunch is served from 11:30 am to 2 pm. After dining, make sure you check out the "Wall of Fame" showcasing photos of frequent visitors. If this is an indication of the Ruiz's culinary future, it is a successful and bright one. In my opinion, The Munch Factory earns 5 fleurs-de-lis for not only for the wonderful cuisine, but also the determination and dedication of the Ruiz's to this city.

Restaurants in New Orleans

~ NOLA Roux

September, 2012

Big Shirleys of New Orleans

Big Shirleys of New Orleans

5222 Elysian Fields Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70122
(504) 252-4835

Every so often, I feel the need to have a down-home cooked lunch. Suddenly, Big Shirleys of New Orleans came to mind. I have heard their advertisement frequently on the radio and decided this would be the day that I paid them a visit. My party and I were quickly greeted at the door by a very tall gentleman. With a straight face he asked were we sent over by the radio station to answer the question that would net the $1,000.00 check for the restaurant sponsored contest. I quickly asked what the question was. He stated, "How many midgets can you put in a Volkswagen?" My response was "as many as you have." He laughed and said you answered correctly but I don't have the check. Enough of the small talk, I was ready to take on the task I had ventured out for "eating a home-cooked" lunch. He offered us the Obama table, but I opted out because who knows, it is campaign time and Mr. President may be in the neighborhood.

Big Shirleys on Elysian Fields

My party and I pondered on the menu not knowing what to order. The tall gentlemen pulled up a chair while we read the menu over and over again. Trying to divert his attention away from the time we were spending trying to make a decision, I asked him was Big Shirley in. He told me Big Shirley was his mom and she was not in right now. I asked did he think she would be in shortly, and he answered that she was deceased. At that moment I felt that there had been a strong connection between mother and son and that she would be forever with him in his place of business. After taking a moment to recollect myself, I settled on one of the entrees pork chops and 2 sides. My choices of sides were macaroni and cheese and yams. There was an option of having my chops grilled, barbecued, jerked, or fried. Trying to stay somewhat healthy (while ordering those fattening sides); I decided to have them grilled. Pork chops are something I hardly ever place on my "must eat list" when dining out, but I was happy I choose them.

Although the wait was quite lengthy for the amount of patrons seated, I felt it was worth it. My plate arrived with not one, but two boneless chops grilled to perfection just for me. Also on the plate in separate containers were my sides, all surrounded by sprinkles of parsley. The mac and cheese and yams were delicious, but would have been knocked up a notch if they were just a little bit warmer. No meal to me is complete without bread, which I requested and was not charged for. I was given a serving of three crunchy slices of French bread, toasted with butter and sprinkled with parsley. Topping it off was a bottle of Barq's Root Beer. It doesn't get any better than this in New Orleans! Entrees range from $7.95 for boneless chicken breast also with order options as the pork chops to $16.95 for a seafood plate (catfish, shrimp and oysters). There are local favorites of red beans and rice, jambalaya and also blackened shrimp or chicken Alfred. Also included on the menu are 7 types of salads and 8 poor boy sandwiches. If you have room for dessert, bread pudding and a dessert special each for $3.50 is listed on the menu. Big Shirley's is also open for breakfast from 7:00 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. On Friday nights, visit them for live jazz at 6:00 p.m.

I am going to contribute the length of waiting time to receive my lunch to the love and care that is given to each plate that passes over the counter to each and every customer. I am sure Big Shirley's would have wanted it this way. Big Shirley's receives 4 fleurs-de-lis for its taste, selection and that warm, fuzzy feeling we all need every once in a while.

Restaurants in New Orleans

~ NOLA Roux

September, 2012

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