Never can the expression ‘out of something bad always comes something good’ been more appropriate.
I was fortunate enough to be asked along to the inaugural Chow Down at the Piece Hall, Halifax in 2018 and to say I was impressed would be an enormous understatement. A new food and drink festival in a freshly refurbished iconic landmark was a masterstroke. Last year the exercise was repeated and another superb venue, Lincoln Cathedral, also given the opportunity to act as a backdrop. Sadly, the even bigger plans for 2020 had to be put on hold and that looked to be that.
But wait! What is this I hear? From Thursday, 30th July for ten weeks we have Chow Down @ Temple Arches. Chapter 81, New Citizens and Leeds Indie Food – the partners in Chow Down – have got together with CEG, the property and development company responsible for the new Temple Arches site on Globe Road, to provide a safe, social distancing venue for we food and drink lovers to partake in our favourite pastimes.
Once again, they have not done things by halves and have created an enormous space to accommodate the street food vendors, who have been struggling during lockdown, and the largest beer garden in the city. At 22,000 sq. ft. It will allow plenty of space, not only to eat and drink, but also to enjoy music, entertainment and street art.
The cuisine will change on a weekly basis with the first weekend, 30th July – 2nd August, featuring street food from Middle Feast, Nyama Choma (Kenyan-inspired grill), Pizza Loco’s sourdough specialities and Sela Bar’s burgers from Little Red Food Truck – fortunately there is remote ordering so you don’t need to say that name after you have had a couple of beers!
Speaking of beers, the usual suspects will be in attendance in Northern Monk, and North Brewing Co., along with rotating lines from Anthology, Nomadic, Kirkstall Brewery, Meanwood Brewery and new kid on the block, Amity. If you think I am going to say ‘What’s Jaws?’ You have another think coming. There will also be a range of wines and spirits from Cansecco, HUN and Healy & Gray with cocktails mixed by the experts at the main bar, or from cans by Ace & Freak.
Should you be the designated driver, or just prefer non-alcoholic beverages then Laynes will be on hand to serve up the coffee.
The musical entertainment over the first weekend will be tastefully rendered by Crazy P, PBR Streetgang and Tristan da Cunha with DJs We Are Fierce, Emily Pilbeam, Soul Boutique, Ed Vector, Ninety Nine and Gip Dammone spinning the platters that matter, the grooves to make you move and tracks to relax.
OK, that is the fun stuff, now the important bit – your safety!
Chow Down @ Temple Arches will be a safe and comfortable environment whilst adhering to the rules of social distancing. The site will be cashless, no – you don’t get stuff for free, you have to pay by card – and tables must be pre-booked. The upside of this is that you won’t have to queue for food and drink as you scan a code on your table which will take you to an ordering platform and the food and drink will be brought to you by the appropriate vendor. It’s a bit like having a butler except I don’t think that they will iron your newspaper.
Temple Arches is on Globe Road, a short walk from Granary Wharf and the South Entrance to Leeds City Station. You can also reach it by strolling along the canal towpath or by bicycle, parking in the on-site Bike Park.
The opening times for Chow Down @ Temple Arches are as follows:-
Thursday 30th July 16.00 – 22.00
Friday 31st July 11.00 – 22.00
Saturday 1st August 11.00 – 22.00
Sunday 2nd August 11.00 – 21.00
For the following 9 weeks:-
Thursdays 11.00 – 22.00 with Family Sessions 11.00 – 15.00
Fridays 11.00 – 22.00
Saturdays. 11.00 – 22.00
Sundays. 11.00 – 21.00
Tickets for the first weekend will go on sale on Wednesday 22nd July and can be obtained from chowdownevents.co.uk
The cost is £5 per person but tickets can only be purchased in multiples of two. The price includes a drink (a pint of house lager, Chow Down cocktail or soft drink), a reserved table, table service and access to the food vendors.
Much as I was impressed by the original Chow Down I think that this will be just as amazing. For someone like myself who suffers from terminal FOMO, the smaller number of food outlets means that I will be able to sample a lot more of them over the coming weeks than I could have done had they all been there at the same time. Result!
All images provided by Chapter 81