The Munch Factory
6325 Elysian Fields Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70122
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.
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.
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.