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Where Y'Eat: Molly's At The Market, Now From The Market

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Ian McNulty
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A spectrum of greens, and many other vegetables, are the basis for a unique market-to-pub bar food menu at Molly's at the Market.

Emerald green may be the first color for Irish pubs around the world, followed closely by the black of Guinness stout.

Recently, however, the tiny tavern kitchen at the back of the French Quarter pub Molly's at the Market has been adding greens of another sort to the mix, along with other colors from a cornucopia of local produce.

One recent example brought pierogi dumplings filled with sautéed arugula and peas surrounded by a salad with two types of mizuna, the mustardy greens, and even fresh fennel seeds. Another example worked an array of dark, leafy greens between the nutty, toasty sesame and soy flavors of fried rice.

It’s part of a new market-fresh menu at this long-time watering hole. In a way, it’s another manifestation of the farm-to-table aesthetic, an approach to cooking that’s practically a given these days at high-end restaurants and is starting to gain more currency in casual settings too. Molly’s may be a smoky barroom, but the trend for better food is reaching across the spectrum.

Take a closer look, however, and we see something else going on here — a 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 chef would be Matthew Kopfler. He runs pop-up food events around town, and last fall he took over the walk-up kitchen window at Molly’s at the Market. He’s dubbed his venture l’enfant terrible — the terrible child.

The regular menu here brings some creative turns to familiar bar food, like Buffalo chicken Rangoon and chimichurri quesadillas. But soon after this chef set up shop at Molly’s, the Crescent City Farmers Market started a new weekly edition just a block away at the French Market. On Wednesdays from 2 to 6 p.m., farmers and artisan food producers from around the region gather under the shed of the old French Market, bringing goods that aren’t just fresh but in many cases are highly specific, small harvest heirlooms.

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, and definitely not vegetarian, menu on Wednesday evenings, right after the farmers market. He sprinkles these dishes and ingredients around his menu throughout the week too.

There’s a larger effort underway to bring more New Orleanians back to the French Market, an institution with roots reaching to the earliest days of the city and which in past generations was a daily part of life in the French Quarter. A key ingredient to this plan is making interesting, locally-relevant foods available here. And the other part of the equation is how people use it all.

At Molly’s, the pub around the corner, this chef is showing how easy it can be, connecting a few dots from local producer to nearby kitchen to quick meals drawn from a local harvest, even if they’re served on a bar top. Along the way, it’s making the case that maybe sometimes Molly’s at the Market can be called Molly’s from the Market.

Molly's at the Market

1107 Decatur St, New Orleans, 504-525-5169; mollysatthemarket.net

For details on l'enfant terrible, see lenfantterriblenola.com

Ian covers food culture and dining in New Orleans through his weekly commentary series Where Y’Eat.

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