Was it the backwards bicycle rickshaw parked by the front door that intrigued us the most? Or was it the dollop of slightly chunky peanut butter on the house pickle plate at Black Market (922 Massachusetts Ave., 822-6757), delicious but served without so much as a cracker for dipping or spreading, that made us go “hmm”? “People eat it all kinds of ways,” co-owner Ed Rudisell said from behind the bar, smiling. “We don’t dictate how customers do it.”
With nearly every seat taken on just his second week in business, Rudisell, whose first restaurant venture Siam Square in Fountain Square rarely has open tables, had reason to smile. Along with chef Micah Frank, a former R Bistro sous chef who waited nearly a year as the opening of Black Market was pushed back, Rudisell has clearly conspired on a hit with some curious quirks that will keep people guessing—and coming back. As we dipped pieces of spicy pickled daikon into that peanut butter and fought over who would get the last pickled ramp, we gazed up at the high shelf full of jars of pickles that would turn up as bar snacks.
Then there was the beef tongue “cocktail” with plenty of delicious Fischer Farms tongue served with pickled beets and a delicious—if not overpowering—horseradish sauce. But maybe it was the burger that followed—half beef, half lamb, definitely a rosy medium rare—that was the highlight, schmeared with a delectable goat cheese spread on a toasted challah bun. An equally thick schmear of barely sweet chocolate cream cheese atop a banana muffin wasn’t quite as successful, being almost too rich, though a butterscotch sauce and super crisp pecans were stellar touches.
Black Market doesn’t take reservations, and the communal tables mean you’ll likely meet a new friend when you stop in. But with late-night hours and a sensible Sunday brunch for late-night carousers that doesn’t start until noon and goes until 5 p.m., you’ll have plenty of opportunities to get a table and dig into all the curious dishes this playfully hip new place will offer.