#22 Making a big deal out of small plates – simply put, Black Market are serving up flavours which are unquestionably some of the best in our region.
Write up by Paul @fatfoodclub
We headed down last Saturday to meet owners head chef John, business manager Justina and their four-month-old Black Market restaurant. Taking on a grade 2 listed renovation challenge and being told the job would be complete in 12 weeks, it wasn’t until September last year and six agonising months later when the first guests to Black Market arrived through the door. The wait had been worth it - Black Market is small, bright, modern, chic and every other word imaginable to describe a cool and trendy independent eatery in the heart of Chapel Allerton, Leeds. The look and feel tick every box, but it is the food which makes Black Market stand out as one of the most exciting places we have visited in a long time.
Without labelling its food, John and Justina are open about what they want Black Market to achieve. They are humble about its early success. They are taking small steps each day and appreciate every success which comes their way. ‘We didn’t want to label our food, neither did we want to say we are fine dining – we just didn’t want to title ourselves in that way. We want people to experience our food. We want people to enjoy their time with us.’ The food is cleverly drawing on flavours from as far as South East Asia to North Africa. Expect British fare as well as inspirations from Europe. Every plate we ordered today was cooked fresh using the best in local produce from across our region. Guests are given the choice from small plates of fish like the brilliant harissa giant king prawns in cashew nut butter to veggie options like the cauliflower croquettes in tomato romesco and herb oil. Meat comes in good form and today we chose the sirloin pave on mushroom caramel and horseradish mousse and a plate of delicious BBQ lamb.
Each plate is well styled, the food is a picture, a feast for the eyes. Head chef John is no stranger to good food having worked in the past under Michelin operations including Brasserie 44 in the city centre. Today, John proudly showed us their mock up BBQ in their super modern downstairs kitchen designed by him. ‘We use this to test and try new things, sometimes the specials - today we are using it for the lamb’. John continued, ‘we try the specials and if they work then they go on the menu. If we decide one day to try something new then we can do that – we are not bound by a specification, a rule book or something else which will limit our creativity.’ This in turn builds a trust amongst Black Markets guests assuring that whatever season or whatever time of year John and his team will provide an exquisitely detailed menu layered with outstanding flavour.
The wine list is just as impressive and as far reaching as the food. The North American sweet tasting blackberry and blueberry Federalist Cabernet Sauvignon had us gripped this afternoon and paired brilliantly with the sirloin. As well as the white, rose, sparkling and champagne, diners also have options from a well decorated cocktail menu.
‘We are not fine dining, we just don’t want to call ourselves that’ explained John. And in every word he is right, this is as close to fine dining as it comes only without the awkward formal feel of a black tie and dinner suit as well as the extraordinarily high prices sometimes felt with those restaurants who make the decision to label themselves in that. In fact, Black Market is quite the opposite. Guests to Black Market are in surroundings which are comfortable, relaxed and inviting.
John and Justina are not naïve to the challenges the independent scene brings. ‘I feel I am constantly working, night and day, there is always something which needs doing’ said Justina. It’s no secret that it is hard to compete with the bigger names in the city centre. However, there is a flip side to this. And as John so well put it as we prepared to leave ‘people are turning their attention towards the suburbs. People are looking towards Moortown, Roundhay and Chapel Allerton for a night out. And we are happy with that.’
Black Market is open all days except Monday.
Saturday – 10am - 10pm
Sunday - 10am – 5pm
Tuesday 5pm – 10pm
Wednesday – Friday 11am – 10pm
To reserve a table, call Black Market on 0113 262 2531
Black Market, 5 Stainbeck Lane, Chapel Allerton, Leeds LS7 3PJ