The Green Market in Fargo, N.D., is small: small space, small plates, small staff. An advertisement for a recent reservations-recommended theme dinner warned patrons, “one chef, two hands, six burners.”
The downtown market is in its third location, and it’s scaled back since chef Andrea Baumgardner opened it in 2006. The first location had enough space for the restaurant, grocery, and a deli where Baumgardner sold locally grown produce, locally raised meat, and local and imported groceries; the second spot, at the Plains Art Museum, was home to a streetside farmers market in summer. Now Baumgardner serves lunch Saturdays and dinner Tuesday through Saturday. The plain space — black tables, black chairs, disposable cups and napkins — seats just 40. But Baumgardner still adheres to her vision of promoting fresh, seasonal ingredients in the restaurant’s constantly changing menu. The Green Market is one-of-a-kind for Fargo — creative, ingredient-focused food that is still affordable.
The menu is made up of small plates, including labeled options for vegetarians (V) and vegans(V+). There is fresh bread baked daily. On a recent Saturday, the breads included orange rolls ($2.50) — sweet, soft, and citrusy, with bright flecks of orange rind — and chewy house-made bagels ($1.75). Choose between plain or “everything,” flecked with nigella and sesame seeds, onion flakes, and salt. They’re served with a dollop of plain or house-mixed herbed cream cheese. And they’re every bit as good as those at Common Roots in Minneapolis.
For entrees, a kale and gorgonzola puff (pastry) pizza (4.50), served with a side of caramelized onions was recommended over an asparagus and pea shoot quiche ($3.50). It was an interesting mix of textures — buttery puff pastry, a touch of creamy blue cheese, and almost-charred-to-crumbling kale. Baumgardner’s adherence to whole foods leads spice-seekers to find some dishes dull. A saffron, chicken, and rice soup ($7) led diners to seek a cilantro leaf in every spoonful and search in vain for pepper (no shakers in sight). A puff pastry-ensconced hunk of Scottish salmon with bits of asparagus and slices of mushrooms ($13) was lovely looking and made with beautiful ingredients, but not much more than the sum of its parts.
Baumgardner is a cheese-lover, so the market’s single cooler of grocery items boasts easily more than a dozen cheeses. They’re available to take home or enjoy in that day’s variation of grilled cheese, such as a griddled brick and provolone sandwich ($7). Other items include local eggs and Hope Creamery butter.
The Green Market may be small, but for those diners who appreciate fresh food and enjoy occasionally unusual ingredients and small servings, it may be the best Fargo has to offer.
The Green Market
69 4th St N
Fargo, ND 58102
OWNER: Andrea Baumgardner, Peter Kelly, Steve Heiland
BAR: Beer and wine
VEGETARIAN/VEGAN: Yes / Yes
ENTREE RANGE: $7-$16