Food Trends: 5 things I’ve learned since moving to Leeds

Since moving across the Pennines in December, I’ve learned many things: Yorkshire Tea is always best, portion sizes are always big and that around here a barm is called a teacake (although please let’s not start that debate, I beg you!)

But this has also been my first experience of living in a big city, and one such as Leeds is inevitably a social hub for the trendy and the cool, I’ve been to more quirky bars in the last few months than I have during the rest of my life combined! I’ve learned pretty quickly that Leeds prides itself on being modern, cool and a place where not only your real life presence, but your online one too, matters.

A big thing I’ve learned a lot about is food, and more specifically, food trends. Leeds is rammed full of places to eat, whether that be huge corporations, national chains, indie cafes, sit down formal places, market stalls, themed kitchens… you’re spoiled for choice, if you want it — Leeds has it.

Now as far as food trends go, I had the basics of what was sweeping the UK, (It’s hard to avoid the obsession for pulled pork anywhere you are in the country, people love some slow cooked pig) and as somebody who doesn’t eat meat, the rise of halloumi was as trendy as I ever got.

But now, living in a place that not only reflects trends, but makes them, I think I’m learning a few things about the modern dining experience:

  1. Burgers are still king

It seems that every single restaurant has some variation of a burger and not only as a safe choice… burgers are cool. Well, BBQ is pretty popular anyway, but burgers just seem to be a must-have for any type of establishment, the more attractive, well made and innovative — the better!

2. Smaller dishes, more sharing

Tapas has obviously been big in the UK for a while, but it seems the culture has had an even more far reaching effect than first thought. The popularity of selecting small ‘Street-food’ sharing type dishes is definitely taking precedent over the old “my plate, your plate” routine.

3. Bars with food > Restaurants

This one ties into the previous point, but the Mediterranean theme of enjoying some food with your beer is definitely prevailing in Leeds. In the last week I’ve eaten at Bundobust, Tapped and Belgrave Music Hall which all serve vastly different foods that people love, all of which are bars.

4. No food is uncool

This was one of the weirdest realisations for me, as Leeds has shown me that with the right branding, recipe and presentation, pretty much any food can be seen as an up market dish. Just look at the likes of Pieminister, battling against Greggs and football stadiums to make the humble pie an up-market delicacy.

5) Social Media matters.

For more detail on this, you should read Ollie’s excellent blog on Instagram and food, but I’ll give you a quick round up anyway. The places that are Instagram friendly, with good looking food in interesting locations are the ones that get people talking. The ‘must-go’ food places in Leeds are like that, because they’ve branded themselves to these people, mainly through social media and the buzz that generates.

An online presence is huge, from chefs in the Market to the the formal sit down restaurants, eating is now a much more social experience than ever.