Emerald green may be the favorite color for Irish pubs, followed closely by Guinness black.
Recently, however, the tiny tavern kitchen at the back of the French Quarter pub Molly’s at the Market (1107 Decatur St, 504-525-5169; mollysatthemarket.net ) has been adding greens of another sort to the mix, along with other colors from a cornucopia of local produce.
For one recent example, two types of mustardy mizuna ringed a pile of tender pierogi filled with arugula and the fresh peas. Radiant watermelon radish slices cut through butter-crisp white radish chunks for another dish and parsley pesto topped sweet potato disks over wavy scarlet frill for a third.
On one level, this is the farm-to-table aesthetic served up in a smoky barroom. But take a closer look and it’s also the unique convergence of a historic marketplace, a new effort to revive its accustomed place in New Orleans food culture and an enterprising young chef eager to take full advantage, even from an unconventional perch.
That would be Matthew Kopfler, who runs pop-up food events around town. He took over the walk-up kitchen window at Molly’s in September, dubbing his venture l’enfant terrible (for hours and details see lenfantterriblenola.com). His regular menu brings Buffalo chicken Rangoon and chimichurri quesadillas into bar food rotation.
But in October, the Crescent City Farmers Market began a new Wednesday edition just a block from Molly’s, convening two dozen food producers at the French Market (2 p.m.-6 p.m., see crescentcityfarmersmarket.org). It’s part of a larger push to bring more fresh and local food back to the French Market, which in past generations was a busy emporium of local flavors.
So with a chef’s playground of picked-that-day produce at his doorstep, Kopfler now sources and serves a special all-vegetarian menu alongside his normal menu on Wednesday evenings.
“I hardly have to do anything to the stuff,” Kopfler said. “You walk around the market, you get inspired, and my kitchen is a block away.”
If you visit the farmers market and need some ideas to put its gorgeous harvest to use, l’enfant terrible serves handy examples at $5 to $9 a pop. Guinness makes a fine accompaniment, too.
Follow Ian McNulty on Twitter, @IanMcNultyNOLA.