The Owl set to Open! - Chapter 81
September 3, 2019

The Owl set to Open!

Award-winning chefs behind Leeds’ HOME restaurant announce new Kirkgate Market venture - The Owl

The Owl set to Open! The Owl set to Open!
Words by: Phoebe Ryan

Kirkgate Market and the founders of HOME restaurant, Mark Owens and Liz Cottam, have signed a brave and exciting deal. It will bring a number of new foodie concepts to the old market halls.

You might remember local chef Liz Cottam from 2016’s Masterchef. That’s if you don’t know her from HOME, her restaurant in central Leeds with fellow chef Mark Owens. Mark had previously retained a Michelin star for Ilkley’s The Box Tree. With stellar reviews for their ever-changing, seasonal fine dining menu, the accolades are just about due. HOME opened in August 2017.

The Owl set to Open!

These aren’t chefs to sit on their laurels. The pair announced plans for a series of ventures destined to bring flourish (and footfall) to a city centre venue very dear to Liz’s heart, this month – Leeds Kirkgate market.

“Mum and dad owned spit-and-sawdust pubs around Leeds in the 1980s, and we’d shop at the market almost every day. It was thriving and buzzing back then, and was very much part of my childhood.  It was no frills, but good quality. Some products were artisanal, some mass-produced. But then supermarkets happened, convincing us to buy pretty food in out-of-town stores. It was sad to see it decline. But, thank God, people are now learning more about produce, becoming aware of the choices they are making, and being more discerning. I think it’s about time our markets got back to their former glory.  ”
Liz Cottam

The Owl: the First of Four New Market Venues

The pair plan to launch four disparate foodie concepts in Kirkgate Market this year, kicking off with The Owl this month.

Named because of the remnants of stone-carved owls you can make out in the arches above, The Owl will be a gastropub, but not the kind you might expect. Think whole roast game and fish, as their speciality – and headed up by a Michelin star-winning chef.

Fish & Game Row, alongside Butcher’s Row, is the oldest part of the ornate market building, dating back to 1875. This is where The Owl will be situated, where 4 units will be transformed into one.

It will focus on great beer, in collaboration with Northern Monk (with many other taps of great beer on rotation), and will be one of few places outside London to offer fine wines on tap. It will serve up the best market produce, with emphasis on whole roasts – predominantly fish and game – inspired by their Fish & Game Row surroundings. From the sneaky shots we can reveal here, that offering looks mouth-wateringly good.

The Owl set to Open!

Cottam and Owens’ plans aim to entice everybody to the markets. Whether a frequent market goer, a Leeds shopper who has never set foot inside Kirkgate, or one of their existing fine-dining customers excited for more foodie ventures from the chefs behind HOME, they want footfall in Leeds’ beautiful markets, reinvigorating them with the life they knew twenty years ago as a thriving Leeds food hub.

There will be something for everyone here. From informal nibbles to unique and exclusive chef’s table experiences, takeaway office lunch-on-the-go to champagne and oysters, coffee to crab pie. Four different venues cater to everybody!

The team work very closely on HOME, and will continue to do so on these new additional concepts. There will be one venture Liz will head up on her own, though. This  soon-to-be-announced concept will reveal host Elizabeth’s vision for a Chef’s Table-style, high-end, intimate dining experience.

They are hoping to bring more city centre visitors through the market (a historically significant Leeds hub, and the largest covered market in Europe), giving it a real lease of life.


The Owl set to Open!

Home from HOME

Cottam and Owens opened their critically acclaimed restaurant HOME in August 2017, where their unique selection of seasonally-informed dishes make up a tasting menu that changes every single month.

With rave reviews from customers and critics alike, HOME is part of the movement bringing fine dining to Leeds, with Michelin starred ambitions.

“I’ve wanted to do something in this amazing building for a long time. I was originally going to do one thing. But then I thought, if we want to actually push for some serious change, more is needed. So it seemed like a good idea to do as many things as possible - so there are lots of new reasons for people to go to the market. It would demonstrate a significant change.   I’m extremely passionate about my region, my city and my market. For me the market is one of the most beautiful buildings in the world. There’s nowhere like Yorkshire - it’s the most inspiring place. I’ve always thought that. I just don’t want to be anywhere else!”
Liz Cottam

Further ventures soon to be announced!

Three more market venues are on the cards following The Owl. This includes two units in the market hall and another, secret location on Fish & Game Row. These will be announced in due course.


HOME was founded by Elizabeth Cottam and Mark Owens in August 2017. As a Masterchef finalist (2016) and a Head Chef at Michelin-starred Box Tree, Cottam and Owens joined forces to bring fine dining, inspired and influenced by their Yorkshire surroundings, to Leeds. Their tasting menu changes monthly, featuring the best local produce with the best provenance.

With rave reviews from the likes of The Sunday Times’ Marina O’Loughlin as well as plenty of customers and critics alike, HOME aspires to being in the vanguard of the Leeds fine dining scene.

Kirkgate Market News

Kirkgate is on the up, you heard it here first. Those in the know have been aware that there have been some ace street food options in here (Manjit’s chilli paneer wrap anyone?), but HOME’s ideas will mean there are more high-end venues for us to try out in there, too.

Two new businesses have opened there in the past month. Casa Mexica serves up the ‘best burritos in town’, whilst Kanassa Kitchen serves up Colombian-inspired street food.  Existing business Istanbul bakery have expanded their business within the Market Kitchen too, and Fisherman’s Wife will soon follow, moving from outside (FYI, the most reliably tasty fish & chips in central Leeds, in our opinion).

So, get your shopping bags out and head down to Kirkgate for your weekly shop – keeping your eyes peeled whilst you’re there for all this hard work under construction!

“We are thrilled that Liz Cottam has chosen Leeds Kirkgate Market as the location for her new venture. Our market is a hub for food lovers, from the wide variety of fresh ingredients to the expanse of exciting street food. This new concept will only enhance the current offer and will be a fantastic new addition to the market. ”
Cllr Jonathan Pryor, Executive Member for Learning, Skills and Employment, Leeds City Council

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