Restaurant Reviews: Warbucks’ new American cuisine

Matt Federman, Contributing Writer

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Warbucks, found in the Irish Channel along Magazine street, is brought to life by Executive Chef Todd Pulsinelli. The newly opened restaurant blends modern American cuisine with distinct international influences. The kitchen staff members clearly pride themselves on bringing unconventional flavor combinations together with classic technique.

With its checkered floor and mid-century modern influences, Warbucks is a hip, fun and approachable place for friends to get together for a night out or weekend lunch. The menu displays well-developed and sophisticated dishes without coming off as pretentious. Diners should expect to pay between $15 and $40 for a meal, depending on the number of courses ordered. This makes it the perfect place to either grab a relatively inexpensive bite or to ball out.

Matt Federman | Contributing Photographer

The owners took a stripped-back approach to the interior design with exposed brick walls, further establishing the modern-hip vibe of the restaurant. The dining room also has a clear view of the kitchen, maintaining an open atmosphere.

Even if the camera eats first, the food still matters. The appetizers ordered consisted of brussel sprouts and smoked octopus with red beans and rice. For entrees, The Hullabaloo ate blackened scallion rice and chicken as well as the fried chicken banh mi. The brussel sprouts were mixed together with crispy fried potatoes and tossed in a spicy, tangy, fish-sauce-based dressing. The fried vegetables were then garnished with crispy garlic chips, cilantro and scallions. There was a noticeably high ratio of potatoes in relation to brussel sprouts. The herbs brought much needed freshness to the otherwise oily dish, while still preserving the crunchy texture.

Despite all the vegetables, this is far from from a salad and is better suited to those looking to treat themselves with a heavier meal. The restaurant’s take on traditional red beans and rice came together with the almost blasphemous inclusion of smoked octopus. The core factors of the beans and rice contain many of the classic flavors, but the addition of octopus seem to detract from the overall experience. The dish is topped with red pepper and fresh veggies, which infuse the beans with brightness but distract from the main event.

The blackened scallion rice and chicken came garnished with a brittle sheet of chicken skin. Almost like a large chicken skin chip, which introduced much needed textural variation. The boneless chicken thigh is grilled and smothered in a light creamy sauce and accompanied by a particularly aromatic bed of rice. The spice was present but tamed by the richness of the sauce.

Matt Federman | Contributing Photographer

The banh mi was filled with a thinly pounded cutlet of fried chicken, along with a helping of cucumbers, jalapeños, pickled carrots and daikon. The chicken had a thick fried crust, which surrounded the tender and juicy center, however, the bread lacked the critical flaky exterior typically associated with banh mi.

The waiter was attentive and aware, while not being overbearing. Service went smoothly with no issues. Overall, the dinner at Warbucks gave me optimism for the restaurant’s future but left me not completely sold on its present form. There managed to be very limited complaints about the food, but I was not absolutely blown away by anything. It performed at above average levels at nearly every stage of the dining experience but failed to wow at any.

The Hullabaloo’s score? Three out of five waves.

ADDRESS

3218 Magazine Street

New Orleans, LA, 70115

PHONE

504 309 5260