The Owl, Leeds
The Venetian domes have been a Vicar Lane landmark since 1857 when Kirkgate Market claimed to be the biggest indoor market in Europe. It can’t make that claim today, the stalls are much reduced, some replaced by a scattering of street food kiosks and while they are very good, it’s a big, draughty space that doesn’t always feel very inviting.
But Liz Cottam who with Mark Owens created the upmarket Home just across the road and reckon Kirkgate Market is just the place for their next adventure. Liz has a sentimental attachment to the old market, she explains, having been taken there as a kid. Now she’s bravely stepped in to provide something a bit revolutionary for Kirkgate; the Owl, the market’s first pub.
Find it at the end of Fish and Game Row, a tiny, all black cave with dishes created from the market produce right outside its front door, with a menu of pub standards only far superior to any pub grub you might have had. Think oysters and Champagne; venison sausage roll with gravy and mash, a roast game bird of the day to share. Think of halibut with little salty brown shrimps, a crunch of samphire and buttery new spuds or ‘Mr Crab’ fish pie, served in the crab shell, topped with divine piped mash and served with peas, good bread and butter, a jug of sauce and two fat crab claw. For afters it’s crumble, doughnuts or lemon drizzle cake.
They open early for breakfast with omelette Arnold Bennett and late on Friday and Saturday but you must book so you can be let into the cavernous Kirkgate market after hours.