The Owl, an exciting to new addition to Kirkgate Market, is due to open on 1 November. The gastropub will serve a number of tasty dishes, with many of the ingredients sourced from the market itself.
I was fortunate enough stand in for Leeds Living’s Editor, to try a selection of these dishes at a preview event held at Home, Liz Cottam and Mark Owens’ fine dining restaurant located just across the street from the market.
The Owl is a unique venture, run by Liz in partnership with Leeds brewery, Northern Monk. When the pub opens in less than 3 weeks’ time, it will bring an exciting new eatery to Europe’s largest covered market. The pub, which will be the first to open in the market’s 150-year history, will be located in Fish and Game row. This is the oldest part of the market building (with parts dating back to 1875). The pub is named after the stone-carved owls in the market’s roof arches.
In addition to delicious food, The Owl will also serve local beers from Northern Monk. So, to start the meal off on the right foot, I opted to try out one of the beers – the Payobopomo – a refreshing, tropically light beer with added vitamin C. What’s not to love? Then, after chatting to Liz briefly about the venture, learning about the ups and downs of renovating old fishmonger units, I was escorted into the dining room, where the meal commenced.
The best cheese toastie I have ever had
First up was a platter of miniature boar burgers and rarebit cheese toasties. These incredible delicious treats will be served as bar snacks at The Owl. I honestly think that the cheese toastie was one of the best I have ever eaten – so I for one am excited to head to The Owl to try out the full-size version next month.
Mr Crab Pie
To start, I opted for the (not so mini) Mini Mr Crab Pie which was served very elegantly in a crab shell. The pie itself was rich, with large chunks of salmon, white and brown crab meat, and a creamy sauce packed with sea vegetables. The mash topping was super smooth but had that important crispy top. An incredible, if not slightly too generous, way to start the meal. I was assured by Liz, after finishing the meal, that this starter will be shrunk slightly at The Owl, but that today’s crab shells were larger than expected!
Up next, we were served an exuberant array of Lindisfarne oysters. The impressive offering included two grilled oysters (one with mushroom and bacon, and one with a creamy parsley sauce), and four raw shells, with various fresh toppings. I watched the other guests enjoy the oysters, but unfortunately was not brave enough to try them myself (perhaps next time).
Haven’t eaten a better fish dish in my life!
For mains, I opted to try the sole with potted shrimps. It was served with a selection of potatoes (roast, dauphinoise and new). The fish was incredible – flaked off the bone, and the shrimps, which were mixed with samphire and capers, were divine. I loved the buttery sauce that came with the dish and had little difficulty in finishing the lot. I don’t think I have eaten a better fish dish in my life!
Sticky toffee pudding
Despite feeling pretty full, we ordered dessert. I opted to try the sticky toffee pudding, which had had rave reviews. As soon as I took my first mouthful I could understand why. The cake was sweet, sticky and moreish, with a slight crunch from a biscuit topping. But it was the toffee sauce which really stole the show – it was so rich and creamy, but had a slight bitter edge which really made it sing. According to Liz, this flavour was thanks to its double caramelization – a process which she has been playing around with to achieve the best toffee sauce possible.
After today’s lunch, and meeting Liz herself, I am so excited to see The Owl open in Leeds’ Kirkgate Market. The gastropub will bring a new vibe to an already special place. It will not only be a fab venue to try out some of the new Northern Monk beers, but hopefully it will also draw in some new customers who may not have tried such amazing food before. Bring on November 1st!
Gemma, a PhD student at Leeds Beckett University, has been writing for over 6 years, and loves to share what’s going on in and around Leeds. She is also an international athlete, artist and creator of Leeds Food Guide. You can find her on Instagram at: @GLB_racewalk, @GLB_creations or @LeedsFoodGuide