To call something a “hidden gem”, to me, seems outrageously patronising. An assumption that you’re (YOU, that’s right!) too ignorant or uncool to know about it, or worse, that somehow the owners aren’t doing it right, that they’re not putting themselves out there. “Hidden gem” is not a phrase I ever intend to use to describe a place, but it seems to be the way many of Leeds’ food-loving types describe The Greedy Pig. Similar to Cafe Moor in the market until their successful stint in Trinity Kitchen, if you know then you know – smug faced and full bellied as you walk back to the office from your lunch break.
For me, The Greedy Pig is not a hidden gem. It’s very much out there, ready and waiting, clear as day. It’s something I’m keen to shout about as loud as I can. Just a gem, if you will. Of course, it’s true that sometimes for some, things just slip under the radar. That’s why I’m here, see – to help spread the word. And, if you’re not a regular, you’d be justified in saying that you never gave The Greedy Pig a second glance. It’s a little off the beaten track (North Street, just along from The Reliance) and I don’t think I’d offend anyone by saying that it seems little more than a greasy spoon cafe. There’s nothing wrong with that of course, but give it a try and you’ll find there’s so much more on offer than breakfast and tea you can stand your spoon up in. A veritable treasure trove of nose-to-tail cooking, step beyond the (excellent) fry ups and stacks of American pancakes to find brisket burgers, tongue tacos, pressed sandwiches and ruebens to melt your face off.
What these guys do is labour intensive. They’re smoking their bacon, brining meat, simmering pans on the hob for hours, packing pies, rolling scotch eggs and baking an array of sweets. The service is always friendly and relaxed, it’s probably my favourite laid back brunch/lunch spot – somewhere Matt and I go on my way into the office, to catch up after he’s been on the road for a busy weekend. Sometimes they do events too, selling their deli items and nose-to-tail tapas. Next up, they want to start opening in the evenings. To do that, they need to fund an accessible toilet for their customers. So they’re running a Pie, Mash and Gravy night, tonight, to raise money. I’m going along, paying a fiver (excellent value, as always) and getting a rich, meaty pie and all the accompaniments in exchange – and hopefully in a few months I’ll be able to go in the evening again.
My main reason for writing this post, is not just for The Greedy Pig – a business I love and would like to show my support for – but to encourage all of you, no matter where you’re based, to show your favourite cafe, restaurant, shop or coffee spot some love. From someone who runs one, albeit not customer facing, life can be tough out there for an independent business, and just knowing it’s there and thinking that’s nice isn’t enough. Use it, visit, speak to the owners, recommend it to others. These amazing spots won’t be there if they don’t make enough money, so go in, eat well, pay for it, and tell everyone you know.
If you’re in central Leeds tonight then go on, make the trip. The menu goes as follows (please note: despite all the offal on the menu, vegetarians aren’t ignored at The Greedy Pig):
1) Celariac, Barley & Shiitake.
2) Beef, Stout & Lentil.
3) Butternut, Chickpea & Spinach
4) Rabbit, Fennel & Ham Hock.