Food, Culture and Community: Black Market
The craft food scene in Indianapolis has grown significantly over the past few years. Many talented chefs have foregone the allure of all things culinary in larger cities around the country, staying true to their roots here in the Hoosier state. One of these individuals is Micah Frank, chef and owner of Black Market located at the eastern tip of Mass Ave. As a native of Indiana, originally from the northern town of Plymouth, Micah attended Ball State University to study Landscape Architecture. However, upon graduating and moving to Indianapolis he began working in restaurants and realized he wanted to become a chef. After spending some time traveling and gaging the culinary scene in other parts of the country, Micah was sure he wanted to continue to cook upon returning to Indianapolis. Since June of 2011 when Black Market opened, Micah has celebrated the use of different parts of animals beyond the usual cuts of meat paired with fresh, local produce. He attributes this approach to his grandparents and their farm where they never let anything go to waste, often utilizing every part possible of the animals raised on their land. Micah says he always had an interest in cooking and remembers watching his grandmother and mother at work in the kitchen. The simplistic yet intuitive manner in which his grandmother cooked stuck with him and helped him develop his own style in the kitchen.
There is something more to the simplistic yet sophisticated way of cooking done at Black Market that permeates the entire operation: not only is the food presented unpretentiously, the decor is very rustic and industrial, yet modern and appropriate. The lack of art on the walls is not an anti-art statement but rather a desire to present natural elements within the building including the exposed brick, the old barn-beam lighting fixture above the bar, and the two large community tables in the center of the dining room, cut entirely from trees in southern Indiana. These features not only showcase Micah's eye for architecture and design but allow the food to be the real star of the dining experience.
At Black Market there is something for everyone to eat, whether you would like a burger and some fries or change things up a bit and try some beef heart or beef tongue. Although you might not find items like these at most other restaurants around town, they are not intimidating items on the menu. Often, fine dining restaurants can alienate diners with the use of esoteric ingredients or techniques. This is not the case at Black Market, making it an exciting and approachable food destination, especially for the growing foodie community in Indianapolis.
Outside of the kitchen, Micah still has a strong interest in architecture and design. He would someday love to get involved in urban development and community planning in Indianapolis. He says it is an encouragement to see all the development going on around town and believes that Indianapolis will continue to grow as urban areas become revitalized. In addition to the idea of developing more residential areas, Micah would also love to see urban farms and greenhouses to thrive in the downtown area as sources of high quality produce for local chefs to grow and use.