Jenessa Williams reunites with an old foodie fave (and saviour) in Trinity Kitchen
No joke – I think Feral Food Store may have once saved my life. Working at a cold and miserable Festival Number 6, I was two days into logistical hell – an incoming tornado, a leaky tent and wellies that simply couldn’t cope against the thigh-high mud. It was high time for comfort food, but amongst the dismal weather, soggy chips and overpriced, once-frozen crêpes (why are there always crêpes at a festival?) just weren’t going to cut it.
Vegans want their usual dirty post-pub carb fix, but just don’t fancy harming animals to do it
And then FFS emerged out of the mist, like a beacon of shiny hope, and saved me. Warm, filling and fresh, I ate with them for the rest of the weekend, and to the joy of my colleagues, found the emotional strength and energy I needed to actually attempt to enjoy myself. I haven’t been camping since, at least in part for a genuine fear of not being able to get my pomegranate salsa fix.
Melodramatic intro over, the new kids on the Trinity block have been a long time coming. Working mainly in the South at events and street food markets, their trip up North to be part of the Trinity Kitchen’s seven-week rotation is a blessed one.
The vegan industry is showing no signs of slowing, but as it becomes more and more mainstream, it’s requirements are shifting. Not all vegans are about healthy eating and counting quinoa – plenty of them want their usual dirty post-pub carb fix but just don’t fancy harming animals to do it. And so enter the glory years of vegan fast food – indulgent, calorific but ultimately, kinder to the planet.
So, nearly two years on from my first fix, what do I order as my reunion meal? For old times sake, it of course has to be the Seitan burger (£8). Made of wheat gluten, Seitan has a texture rather similar to chicken, and in Feral Food Store’s hands, becomes succulent and juicy, cloaked in a lightweight batter that feels unctuous but not greasy. There are no showy brioche buns here – just the wedge of ‘meat’, a bap and of course that zingy salsa, with the new addition of some pickles and hot sauce. As a meal deal with chips and a drink, it comes in at £10 – pricier than your normal lunch, but a great stomach-liner on a long day.
In the interests of a fair analysis, I have to try some extras. Cashew Cheese Fries (£5) are a new one for me, but prove decidedly moreish, the cheese a light drizzle rather than a stodgy drench, with a slight graininess that makes it feel ‘real’.
And then there are the tofu buffalo wings (£6), with the same batter as the Seitan, their silky texture compliments the ranch dip, with celery sticks on the side for good measure. If you’re being truly picky, the ‘southern-fried’ flavour is perhaps a little subtle, but drizzle over some chilli sauce and you’ll hardly care.
So was FFS as good as I remembered? Pretty much. While vegan junk food isn’t totally new to Leeds, there are very few establishments that manage to produce fried food that doesn’t leave you feeling greasy and just-a-little-bit-guilty. As a payday treat or an early weekend dinner, Feral Food Store is well up there with the best of the cities grab and go bites. Next stop: a permanent residence?
Feral Food Store, Trinity Kitchen, 27 Albion St, Leeds LS1 5ER